Wednesday, July 22, 2015

The Dangers of Indoctrination


Once you've been thoroughly indoctrinated, it becomes very difficult to escape a given way of thinking, even when that way of thinking is thoroughly crazy. Consider the latest from Stan at his Winging It blog (and, as always, I'm not picking on Stan... he's just sometimes saying things I have believed in the past... I'm just trying to make up for my mistakes and clearing up why I was mistaken in the past and Stan's words happen to be handy...)

Fair? You want fair? Fair would be eternal damnation for every single one of us. Fair would be receiving what we have each and every one of us earned -- a one way ticket to hell.

Now, this is standard evangelical teaching and there is a point to it... the point being, we want GRACE, not justice, not fairness. When we make mistakes, we are very appreciative if we have a chance to deal with that in the context of grace, not harsh legalistic justice. So, that is, in my mind, the good side of this kind of reasoning.

The bad side is when you take that imagery that celebrates grace and make it a legalistic and literal "truth..." Consider what people are saying with this sort of reasoning...

1. God is a God of perfect love and perfect justice.
2. That because God is perfectly just, the reasoning goes, God can not "abide" or put up with ANY sin.
3. So, because God is SO "just," even one little lie is sufficient cause for God to send a person to an eternal torment and torture, as a matter of "justice..."

The problem with this reasoning is that it is not speaking of justice, as we know and understand justice. Part of the notion of justice includes proportionate punishment for sins/mistakes/crimes.
Thus, while a parent is not at all being unjust to punish their 8 year old for taking a box of cookies that didn't belong to them - say, sending them to time out or making them work extra to pay for the stolen cookies - the parent would be monstrously unjust to cut off their hand to punish them or to kill them by way of punishment. The punishment does not measure up to the level of the crime. It is, in fact, so far out of proportion to the crime that the punishment, itself, is unjust. Monstrous, not loving or just at all.

So, while human beings are all sinful or imperfect in nature, do most of us do something so monstrous in our life as to merit an eternity in torment as an equitable "just" punishment? Most of us do not kill, do not cheat, do not steal that which isn't ours, do not rape, do not commit genocide... so, is a lifetime of mistakes that include lying, being less than honest, gossiping, speeding in our car, etc... are these rightly considered awful enough to justly merit a punishment of eternal torment? Is that rational? Moral?

Or, consider that we have been created imperfect by God (for those who believe we are created by God...) Is it rational or just that God creates us imperfect and then demands that we be perfect or else we'll be punished with eternal torment for being imperfect, as God made us!? No, of course not.

The problem with this view of a loving and just God is that it undermines the notion of a loving and just God. God becomes whimsical, monstrous, unjust, uncaring... not the God most believers think of as a loving God.

I would ask Stan or others who have made these sorts of statements: What specifically have you done to merit a "one way ticket to hell..."? Would you consider another human being who even just tortured for a few days one of your loved ones for their sins to be just and loving? Or would you consider them to be insane?

The obvious answer is "insane..." We recognize it when speaking of human on human action, but some of us are so indoctrinated that we fail to see it when we slander God thusly. Something to consider for those who have ears to hear.

49 comments:

Stan said...

I don't normally visit this place but I was sent here by someone else. I have to say I'm baffled. If the wages of sin is not death, if there is no problem of "vessels of wrath prepared for destruction", if there really is no problem of humans "dead in sin and trespasses", if it is unjust of any divine being to send people to eternal torment ... you know, like Jesus warned about (see, for instance Mark 9:47-48) ... then why was there any need for a Savior? Why did Jesus have to come and die? Why does Paul say "Christ died for our sins" (1 Cor 15:3) if there was no need? What could he have been thinking when he wrote of God being "both just and justifier" because of "the redemption that is in Christ Jesus" because of the "propitiation by His blood" (Rom 3:21-26)? Would you contend that Christ died for the Hitlers and John Wayne Gacys of this world because most of us just aren't that bad? I am completely at a loss to figure out what "salvation" is all about since in your view "we make mistakes", not face any "harsh legalistic justice." If we're just not that bad, what's the point? If we're mostly good enough, are we not indeed getting to heaven on our own merits?

Dan Trabue said...

Grace, Stan. The point is Grace.

The point is not blood sacrifice to magically save us from an impotent god who is powerlessly unable to forgive on his own.

The point is Grace.

But, please, Stan, tell us what you mean by "justice," since the notion of disproportionate punishment is not in the English definition of the word. You are saying "justice," but meaning something Else, what is it?

Dan Trabue said...

And I'm not saying we're "mostly good enough" to "get into heaven," I'm saying we're sinners in need of grace.

I'm just pointing out the reality that, in English, when we speak of Justice, it includes the notion of proportionate punishment. To wildly disproportionately punish someone, it is no longer Justice, it is something Else. You appear to want to appeal to this Something Else, what is it you are appealing to, Stan?

Dan Trabue said...

And so, Stan, can you tell me what specifically have you, have your children done that is SO awful that it is worthy of an eternity of fiery torture? Are you saying that the few lies, gossip, slander, false witness and whatever other sins you've committed are justly punished by an eternity of torture?

It's a reasonable question.

Also, if someone acting on God's behalf decided to torture your loved ones for one full year because of their sin, would that be grace and justice, or would that be monstrously evil?

It's a reasonable question.

Stan said...

And you didn't answer a single question. Interesting. I guess I'll return the favor. Thanks. (Besides, it's abundantly clear I'd be using terms and concept you wouldn't understand. Not because you're too stupid, but because you're defining them different than I am.)

Dan Trabue said...

The problem, Stan, is that your questions are based on faulty premises, but I can answer them easily enough. No doubt, however, that you won't answer mine. It's your MO, unfortunately. Hide from questions that you don't like, try to not even acknowledge their existence and maybe they'll go away.

But here you go:

if there is no problem of "vessels of wrath prepared for destruction", if there really is no problem of humans "dead in sin and trespasses", if it is unjust of any divine being to send people to eternal torment ... you know, like Jesus warned about (see, for instance Mark 9:47-48) ... then why was there any need for a Savior?

We are saved, Christians believe, by God's grace. Jesus came specifically to teach us the Way of Grace. It is Grace that we need, not a blood sacrifice to appease an angry and emotional and impotent god. You see, I did answer the question, you probably just missed it, but hopefully now you can see it.

Continuing...

Why did Jesus have to come and die?

Jesus came to teach us the way of Grace, of love and justice and standing for the least of these. The religious zealots and governmental powers did not like this teaching and, because of the religious zealots devotion to a religion of legalism and following rules, they killed Jesus, as he was a threat to that way by his teaching of grace.

Why does Paul say "Christ died for our sins" (1 Cor 15:3) if there was no need?

Figure of speech. Do you think that God is impotent and incapable of simply forgiving sins in the manner that we do (indeed, that God teaches us to do)? If so, is that vision of god a rather flaccid and powerless one, not to mention angry and whimsical? Do you see how your portrayal suggests such a god?

What could he have been thinking when he wrote of God being "both just and justifier" because of "the redemption that is in Christ Jesus" because of the "propitiation by His blood" (Rom 3:21-26)?

Paul was speaking to a culture that believed in blood sacrifices and so, he spoke using the imagery of the day. Do you find that surprising? Why MUST it be literal, or do you allow that it could be taken figuratively?

Dan Trabue said...

Would you contend that Christ died for the Hitlers and John Wayne Gacys of this world because most of us just aren't that bad?

I would contend that Jesus came teaching a way of Grace, not of rule following, not of blood sacrifices that the pagans relied upon. Hitler, Gacy, you and I all need to embrace that grace that Jesus taught us.

I am completely at a loss to figure out what "salvation" is all about since in your view "we make mistakes", not face any "harsh legalistic justice." If we're just not that bad, what's the point? If we're mostly good enough, are we not indeed getting to heaven on our own merits?

I don't believe we are saved by being "good enough" (as I've already mentioned). I believe we are saved by Grace, as Jesus taught us in his life, death and teachings.

I have now answered each of your questions in a more indepth manner. Are you prepared to answer my questions?

Do you not recognize how they are at least reasonable questions... that you are painting a picture of an impotent and angry god, not a god of grace? What of the problem of your definition of Justice (one that isn't just, as we understand Justice)?

Come now, let us reason together.

As to me not "understanding" your deep thoughts, are you incapable of explaining them? I don't have to define justice the way you define it in order to understand, "Oh, Stan is defining Justice differently... when he says "justice," he means something that is grossly immoral, by human understanding - to torture someone for an eternity for even one minor sin? Wow, that is not justice, he's talking about petty violence..." or however it is you are defining the word.

This repeated complaint that we are using different meanings and thus "can't" communicate is ridiculous. All you have to do is define the words you are using. It's quite simple, really and Stan, I believe in you. I believe you are able to define words and explain your meaning.

How about it?

Anonymous said...

Is God's Justice perfect?

Dan Trabue said...

I would posit, Anonymous, that if one believes in a Great and Perfect God (as I do), that one would presume that God is also perfectly Just. Which is part of the rational downfall of the evangelical argument embodied by Stan (and formerly, by me). They are not speaking of Justice, as we know it, but this Other Thing - I've called it Blarg in the past, just to give it a name - that is contrary to Justice, as we understand it.

What do you think?

Anonymous said...

Is justice as defined by human understanding or by the English language perfect?

Dan Trabue said...

When you're communicating in English, Justice is defined by the English dictionary as an abstract, but understandable, concept. Language, being of humanity, is not perfect.

Anonymous, how do you define Justice?

Do you think that saying God is perfectly just AND that this same God might punish someone to an eternity of suffering for even one small sin (say, telling a lie) is rational? Is moral? If so, how so?

Thanks.

Craig said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Anonymous said...

f God's justice is perfect, and the human understanding of justice is imperfect, how does one make such sweeping claims about God's justice based on a limited exposure to the human understanding of justice?

When you talk about the human understanding of justice aren't you really just referring to your understanding of justice? Are you saying that there is a universal human understanding of justice?


I think that now we see through a mirror darkly and that any possible understanding of God's justice we might have is very imperfect and biased toward some human illusion that we are basically good.

I define justice as getting what one deserves both from a reward and punishment standpoint.

I don't think I am qualified to comment on the rationality of God's just nature. I do see that it could be reasonable to think that a perfect, holy, God would need to provide the means for sinful humanity to engage in communion with Him.

As to moral, I don't know how you are defining moral. But, trying to define God's justice as not moral is something I would have to think about.

Craig said...

Sorry, Craig couldn't find a way to say what he wanted that was appropriate so he deleted his attempts.

Dan Trabue said...

I'm speaking about justice, as best we understand it, Craig. I've made no sweeping claim about "God's justice," I'm simply talking about justice as I - as you and everyone else - understand it.

Do we understand the notion of justice perfectly? I don't, do you?

Do we understand God's notion of justice perfectly? I'm sure I don't. Do you?

Do we sit around and assume we can know nothing of justice, simply because we don't know justice perfectly? I won't, will you?

When you talk about the human understanding of justice aren't you really just referring to your understanding of justice?

Yes. Although, I don't think I have some strange take on justice that's vastly different than anyone else.

Are you saying that there is a universal human understanding of justice?

There's a general understanding of justice shared generally by most people. Don't take what doesn't belong to you. Help others when you can. Don't harm other people. etc. Do you have some take on justice that's different than what people generally mean by justice?

I've answered your questions, Craig, please return the favor.

Marshall Art said...

"There's a general understanding of justice shared generally by most people. Don't take what doesn't belong to you. Help others when you can. Don't harm other people. etc. Do you have some take on justice that's different than what people generally mean by justice?"

Actually, no one understands justice like that. That is, no normal people. Justice is what happens if you do steal, if you do harm others. Normal people understand justice as consequence, that which follows action...the RE-action to an act perpetrated, particularly a bad behavior. Break the law, go to jail. That "go to jail" part is justice...payment for breaking the law.

"I would contend that Jesus came teaching a way of Grace, not of rule following, not of blood sacrifices that the pagans relied upon."

Yet ironically, Jesus WAS a blood sacrifice...the PERFECT blood sacrifice by which we are cleansed of our sins if we accept Him as Savior. Pretty basic stuff. Real "Christianity 101" level teaching. Indeed, it was His purpose... He was the Lamb of God who takes away the sins of the world.

What's more, it was not only pagans who relied upon blood sacrifices, God mandated that His Chosen People shed blood to atone for their transgressions (again, "Christianity 101" level teaching). He required their best livestock only, without blemish, yet regardless of how "perfect" the animal used, none were truly "perfect" sacrifices to satisfy His clear requirement until Jesus. He died for ALL of our sins, including that one little lie that you think does not justify eternal damnation because it seems unjust TO YOU.

But God's grace is not an example of His perfect justice. It's an example of His mercy. We deserve what Jesus went through (and more), but by His mercy, His grace, we have salvation BECAUSE Christ was the perfect blood sacrifice.

Sure, God could have done it differently. He could simply, for example, look at the sexually immoral you enable and just say, "No sweat, you're in." without ever having to send us Christ. BUT HE DIDN'T and it galls you and your self-serving notions of justice, mercy and grace. Too bad.

Dan Trabue said...

Marshall...

Actually, no one understands justice like that. That is, no normal people.

"Normal,"? Like Merriam Webster?

Justice: the quality of being just, impartial, or fair
b (1) : the principle or ideal of just dealing or right action
(2) : conformity to this principle or ideal : righteousness

My point was that, to act justly, one does what is right, what is good, what is helpful.

It is, I would suggest, the evangelical and other guilt-themed wings of religions that have made "justice" a synonym with "punishment," but that's not exclusively or primarily its definition, Marshall.

But again, I'm just dealing with the notion as we understand it in the English language.

1. What is your definition of Justice, Marshall?

2. Does it include the notion that one can be tortured for an eternity for ONE sin?


If that is your argument (and it is the Calvinist argument, ofttimes, I will give you that), then you are acknowledging that this "justice" is not the same as normal English justice, is that fair to point out? That it is, in fact, a gross violation of justice, as English-speakers speak of justice?

3. If someone were to capture a loved one of yours and torture them with fire for even just one year for their sins (sins which you agree they have, sins which you think are worthy of eternal punishment?), would you call that justice or would you call that a gross violation of justice, an atrocity and an evil of the worst magnitude?

If you all would please address these three questions before offering further commentary, I'd appreciate it.

Dan Trabue said...

Craig...

I think that now we see through a mirror darkly and that any possible understanding of God's justice we might have is very imperfect and biased toward some human illusion that we are basically good.

So, given that you don't know what God's justice is (not clearly), on what basis do you think God's justice includes the notion (contrary to HUMAN understanding of justice) that one should be tortured for an eternity for even one sin? It sounds like, even though you don't know what God's justice is like, by your own claim, that you have nonetheless decided that it likely does include eternal torture for even one sin, which is monstrously unjust by human standards. Am I understanding you correctly?

I define justice as getting what one deserves both from a reward and punishment standpoint.

So then, do you think that the young adult/teen/child who has committed ONE sin, told a lie to his mommy and daddy about cleaning up his room when he hadn't, for instance, that this child/young "deserves" an eternity of torture? Or, okay, admittedly, a young teen has committed more sins than that, so let's say they have lied about 1,000 times and they lusted in their heart 10,000 times, and that they were disrespectful to their parents and teachers 2,000 times... is THAT "deserving" of an eternity of torture/torment?

Marshall Art said...

"It is, I would suggest, the evangelical and other guilt-themed wings of religions that have made "justice" a synonym with "punishment," but that's not exclusively or primarily its definition, Marshall."

I said "consequence", not necessarily punishment. It is justice that a good deed is rewarded. Thus, no evangelical pretends justice is synonymous with punishment. Nice try.

Anonymous said...

Dan,

Clearly the notion of hell offends your sense of fairness, yet Jesus spoke of it regularly, what alternative do you offer that satisfies both sides of the just nature of God? Are you suggesting that there is no hell? Are you suggesting that sin goes unpunished? Are you suggesting that grace is some sort of free pass?

You ask how many sins does it take, and I answer that i don't know. The other side of the coin is how much does someone have to do in order to deserve hell?

I don't know God and the specifics of everything, but I do trust God and that is enough for me.

Dan Trabue said...

I assume "anonymous" is Craig, here, so Craig: By your own testimony, you do not know what God thinks Justice is. Why would I or anyone assume then, that God is advocating something contrary to what we mean as justice?

And fellas, you haven't really answered the central questions put to you, that your "arguments" raise. You all are arguing in favor of something you're not even defining or explaining. I mean, if you don't know the answer (as Craig has admitted in regards to "how many sins" is worthy of eternal torture or what God thinks of justice), that's fine, just say so, no harm in admitting you don't know.

But if you don't know, then what are you arguing for?

To put it another way, it sounds like you are saying this: Look, I don't know, don't have ANY way of knowing what God thinks is just. BUT, I'm going to assume that God thinks that an eternity of torture is Just for even one sin...

Why do you think that? You appear to be making an appeal to "this is what I've always thought, it's what my tradition thinks, therefore, I guess I'll stick with it, even though I can't make any rational sense of it..." Which is fine if you want to stick with your tradition, contrary to any reason. I certainly held that position once upon a time. But if you can't defend it, then why do you care if someone argues in favor of justice as we understand it?

Dan Trabue said...

Clearly the notion of hell offends your sense of fairness, yet Jesus spoke of it regularly, what alternative do you offer that satisfies both sides of the just nature of God?

The "notion of hell" as some evangelicals believe it is contrary to any thing rational or that they can explain themselves. Why would I believe it if it's not rational and if they can't make any sense of it, either, especially when they appear to be advocating an evil and calling it "good..."? What reason would I have for going along with their irrational and immoral claims about God? You've not offered anything.

What I am saying is this:

I believe in a perfectly just God.
It is immoral and CONTRARY to the notion of justice to punish someone disproportionate to their offense.
Therefore, the claim that God does what is contrary to Justice is irrational.

Where specifically is the reasoning off?

Dan Trabue said...

Or, here's another question that your baseless positions raise:

DO you agree that the notion of proportionate punishment is a central feature of Justice?

http://plato.stanford.edu/entries/justice-retributive/

Do you think that just ANY punishment is okay, as long as an actual offense was committed? Do you think that the nations that would like to jail or execute gay "offenders" are moral or immoral? If immoral, why?

Do you think that the father who decides to cut off his son's hand when the son stole a candy bar is being just or unjust? Why?

You all (Craig, Marshall, Stan... me, once upon a time - all of you who can't answer these questions that your claims raise) almost certainly agree that IF one's punishment is disproportionate to the crime, it is no longer justice. If that's the case, then why are you asking anyone to believe that God is against Justice and is, in fact, UN-just? Why would anyone go along with you when you slander God?

These are reasonable questions and you can certainly ignore them, but then, you will be dismissed as not rational and advocating a slander against God and morality.

Anonymous said...

It's interesting that you are arguing against hell or any sort of consequence for sin, without actually putting forth an alternative.

Dan Trabue said...

As a point of fact in the real world, I am not arguing against hell, nor am I arguing against any sort of consequences for sin. I'm arguing in favor of justice and morality, whereas you all appear to be arguing against justice and morality.

So, in the real world, you are flatly mistaken. An honest mistake, I'm sure, but a mistake nonetheless, so not really all that interesting.

What IS interesting is your refusal to answer reasonable questions. Why not? You appear to be making a case that God acts contrary to justice and morality (which of course, surely you do not believe, but there it is, nonetheless), why not clarify your position by answering these reasonable questions?

Anonymous said...

So, what is your alternative, how do you see God's justice playing out.

Dan Trabue said...

? Justly, morally, with love and grace.

I think that Jesus said that he came to seek and to save that which is lost and I believe he will. I believe God has said that he's not willing that any should perish, but that all will come to repentance, and I believe that God is capable of doing seeing that through.

The complication, of course, is that in the real world, not everyone will want to accept that grace, that realm of God... they'd rather choose hell, and God allows us to make that call, for we are made in God's image, having the ability to choose for ourselves which way we'll go.

So, what exactly that looks like? I don't know. But I am confident that God is just and moral and good. I don't think God will act in an unjust or cruel or immoral manner. Do you?

I assume you agree. If so, how can God act unjustly and punish someone disproportionate to the offense?

Questions that your positions raise, Craig (assuming that's still you), that remain to be answered. Perhaps now is a good time to think it through.

How DO you define this "blarg," this "godjustice" that is not the same thing we mean by justice?

If a human did what you propose this god will do - and torture someone for a year (only a year!) for their sins - wouldn't you call that a vast injustice and an evil crime? How then, can you suggest God doing so for an eternity is moral or just? Or rational?

And by your own testimony, you do not know what God thinks Justice is. Why would I or anyone assume then, that God is advocating something contrary to what we mean as justice?

Reasonable questions, all.

Dan Trabue said...

Or how about this one, Craig: What specifically have you and your loved ones - especially any young teens/children/adults you love - done that is worthy of an eternity of torture? Are you really THAT depraved that the only just and moral option is to torture you for eternity, that this is what your crimes deserve??

I don't believe it, but you tell me: Are you that depraved? What have you done?

Craig said...

Dan,

So you really have no specific alternative to offer, just vague generalities.

Thanks

Dan Trabue said...

? What specifics are you asking for? You want me to give details specifics of the afterlife with some authority? I don't have that authority nor do I have the specifics. Nor do you. So, what are you asking about?

You're welcome. I will never try to offer details specifics about something for which I have no data. Do you do that?

So, it appears that none of you will answer these reasonable questions so what we are left with is this:

1. You all appear to believe that all humans, even the child who has committed a handful of relatively minor offenses, "deserve" to be tortured for an eternity.

2. You all probably agree with the reality that, in our world, such grossly disproportionate punishment not only is not Justice, it is Unjust and Immoral, monstrously so.

3. You all probably agree that if a human were to torture someone (for their very real sin) for even ONE year straight, that they would not be acting justly and would, in fact, be monsters.

4. You all appear to think that even your children are so depraved and horrible that THEY DESERVE eternal punishment!

5. You all appear to assign this monstrous behavior to god.

6. You all appear to want to call such monstrous behavior "just" when God does it, which begs the question, "What the hell do you mean by Justice?"

7. You all are entirely unable to answer that question, but it appears that you think there is this Other Thing - very specifically NOT justice, as we know it - but this other thing which is monstrous and insane... but that it's okay if god does it, cause, well, you're not able to answer that, either.

If you ever want to try to actually make your case rather than cast vague and unsupported and irrational charges at me, let me know.

Ultimately, I suspect you all would have to agree with me because, well, what you're proposing is insane and monstrous and I don't think you all are insane or monstrous. But I think that you are so blinded by your culture that you can't admit what you're proposing is insane, even while you are wholly unable to defend it. Again, I sort of get it. This gets to the point of my title: Indoctrination is dangerous, at least potentially. It makes one willing to defend evil and call it good, even when you can't organize a defense of that evil, rationally speaking.

May God grant us wisdom.

Dan Trabue said...

Oh, and note: I am saying that those are seven things that APPEAR to be the case, based on what you all have vaguely alluded to. I'm definitely guessing though, as not a one of you will answer questions to clarify what you are saying. So, feel free to correct me if I've made a mistake. Best guess.

Anonymous said...

Dan,
You have some very specific ideas about what things will not look like so it seems reasonable to explore what alternatives you have to offer. So far it seems as if you really don't have much beyond suggestions that others are wrong.

Dan Trabue said...

Do I think specifically that Justice includes the notion of proportional punishment for offenses? Yes, but that's just because that's how the word is commonly used.

Do you disagree with that specific understanding?

Do I hold specific opinions about what happens in the afterlife? No, we have no data to have authoritative opinions about something beyond our knowledge.

Do you hold authoritative, provable knowledge about the afterlife? It appears your answer has been no, and that would be correct.

Do I hold that it is irrational to say that God is perfectly just AND that God will engage in unjust actions? That God is good AND that God will engage in immoral actions? Yes, I think specifically that these are irrational claims.

Do you disagree with those specifics, from a rational point of view?

I have offered no specifics about that which can't be known. I have offered some general affirmation of rationally consistent reasoning. But, IF you are claiming that God is just AND that God will engage in unjust behaviors, then I'm saying that your claim is irrational and unsound. Where am I wrong?

Dan Trabue said...

So far it seems as if you really don't have much beyond suggestions that others are wrong.

A suggestion which you almost certainly agree with, just to be clear.

1. It is morally wrong to punish someone disproportionate to the crime. Such behavior is NOT just.

You agree, I bet.

2. God is just.

You agree, I'm sure.

3. Therefore, God does not punish people disproportionate to the crime.

It's just a rational conclusion based on commonly-held assumptions.

Or, to take it a step further:

4. That is, God will not torture someone for an eternity for ONE sin.

Is a rational conclusion contrary to that old evangelical (not biblical) canard that "even ONE sin can make you imperfect and therefore, send you to hell..." or, as they say at Billy Graham's website...

"You see, you are right about one thing: You and I deserve to be punished for our sins. God is holy and just, and even one sin would be enough to banish us from His presence forever. The Bible solemnly warns, “It is a dreadful thing to fall into the hands of the living God”"

Or as they note in Christianity Today...

In old-model theology, even one sin would be sufficient to condemn us to hell.

(Lest you say that this is not a common evangelical canard...)

So, all I'm saying is that we almost certainly agree on some premises and those premises lead us to the conclusion that saying God condemns to an eternity of torture for even one sin is not a rationally sound premise.

Where specifically am I mistaken?

Craig said...

So to be clear. You are absolutely positive that the views of others are so wrong that they are appropriately categorized as insane, but you have absolutely no specific views feelings or opinions on an alternative to the insanity.

Am I close?

Dan Trabue said...

I'm saying this Craig:

God is perfectly Just.

It is not perfectly just - or just at all - to punish someone disproportionately to the crime.

You agree, thus far, I assume.

I further state that when one says, "God is perfectly just AND God WILL condemn people to an eternity of torture for even one sin," that THAT claim is crazy. It is irrational, not logically sound.

Do you understand, now?

Craig said...

So you issue then, seems to be that you find some sins (I think you agreed elsewhere that sin is an active rebellion against God) to be sort of a minor active rebellion and that if you just commit a few minor sins then eternity is just excessive.

Can you show me where scripture supports that idea of "minor' sins?

Could you maybe suggest what sort of thing you might find as an appropriately major sin or accumulation of "minor" sins that would be worthy of an eternity of punishment?

Or, are you really saying that you feel like a lifetime of punishment is enough and that there is no need for any sort of punishment/reward beyond this life?

Dan Trabue said...

I'm saying that you are not understanding proportionality, as it relates to justice. I don't think that anyone can totally define it, because it's just not like that (it's like pornography, you know it when you see it).

You AGREE that to cut off a child's hand for the very serious crime of stealing candy is a gross violation of justice, do you not?

I'll assume the answer is yes. We agree that there is such a thing as "over-punishment." I'm merely stating that, especially if you say the child who sins ONE time, as a starting point, can you not agree that an eternity of torture is over-punishment and, in fact, grossly unjust?

That is the question that you refuse to answer, I'm guessing because you recognize there is only one sane answer: Yes, to torture a child for eternity for one sin is a gross violation of justice... - and thus, you just refuse to answer because, otherwise, it twists you in knots not knowing where that "line" lies and you'd rather not think about it.

I'm saying that you should think about it because not thinking about it, refusing to address this reasonable question, undermines your credibility, makes you look as if you are calling god unjust and immoral. You should stop that.

Make your case, answer the questions, or move on. I've been patient enough. I've answered question after question from you, it's your turn. Dialog responsibly.

Craig said...

"I'm saying that you are not understanding proportionality, as it relates to justice."

I know what you are saying, I just reject the fact that you saying something makes it true. I do understand the nature of proportionality, I believe that applying human concepts of proportionality to God diminish God.

What an incredibly stupid question.

If you can show me a child who committed ONE sin and never sinned again, then you question might have some validity. The problem is that you have made up an unreasonable question designed to get the answer you want no matter how little it actually represents reality. You like to trot out your snarky little "unicorn in the back yard" crap, well this is exactly that. It is a contrived example, that bears no relationship to the real world.

So, I'm not answering your question because I'm afraid of it I'm not answering it because it is so awesomely unrealistic as to be pointless.

Dan Trabue said...

It is a real question about what might happen in the real world, Craig.

How does your tradition handle the notion of children and age of accountability? Do you think that children are actively committing sins from day 1 (which, of course, is nuts, too)? Or do they start actively sinning when they are about six? Twelve? Presumably, at some point, you think that children start engaging in willful sin (sin, as a deliberate act), right?

Once they realize they are sinning and choosing the wrong, then, on that day, will they be doomed to hell for these sins they've committed if they don't repent? So, okay, let's say you think it's a gradual process, but that most people recognize deliberate sin by the time they're ten (just to grab an age) and they are capable of understanding repentance and God's grace at age ten as well. So, on the day that they realized they were sinners, say at age ten, how many sins did they commit? 100? 1,000? And what were those sins? Lying to their mother about cleaning their room, punching their sister and stealing a cookie, let's say, times 300 or whatever number. All of these, in your mind apparently, are deliberate choices to rebel against God. Let's say you're right and they have done these 1,000 rebellions against God (I would posit that's a poor way to frame it, as they most likely aren't thinking of God when they do it, but let's assume it, nonetheless)

Are these 1,000 sins of lying, stealing and punching their brother... and rebelling against God as they do it, are these sins morally, rationally and rightly punished by an eternity of torture? It doesn't matter if the number is one or 1,000, there is, in the real world, real children who've "rebelled against God" thusly to some degree (as you are defining it): Do you truly think that rebellion is rightly punished by an eternity of torture?

It's a reasonable question, Craig. Your side appears to be saying, "Yes, we deserve that, it IS just to torture a ten year old for eternity for failing to repent of those "rebellions" against God..." and that sounds literally crazy. IS that what you are saying?

The question IS realistic, answer or abandon the conversation, sneaking out without making your case or having the decency to admit you can't answer this reasonable question.

Thank you.

Craig said...

"It is a real question about what might happen in the real world, Craig."

Please show me one account of anyone living their entire life while only committing one "minor" sin?

I'm sure you'll delete this, but I've had the "age of accountability" conversation with you once before, and my position hasn't changed so please refer back to that conversation for answers on that topic.

Dan Trabue said...

Craig, the number doesn't matter. ONE minor sin, 1,000 minor sins... how many minor sins do YOU think it takes to justly send someone to an eternity of torture? Traditionally, conservative evangelicals are the ones who have made the "Only ONE Sin!" claim, but it doesn't matter to the point I'm making.

Answer the questions or move on and we'll have your answer. I insist.

Thanks.

Dan Trabue said...

Or, put another way to accommodate your "sinner = sinful nature" theme: Do you think that a newborn baby born with a sinful nature, but who dies at one day old justly deserves an eternity of torture for their "sinful nature..." - aside from any deliberate acts of sin? Do you think that is just somehow?

How about the one month old? Deserving an eternity of torture for their sinful nature?

One year old with their sinful nature and maybe, for those who think this way, whatever "sins" that one year old has committed... justly deserve an eternity of torture? The ten year old and whatever sins they have committed and their sinful nature, deserving of an eternity of torture?

These are all real people in the real world with their sinful nature and with whatever sins that a 1, 10, 14 year old might have committed... there are children who die "in their sins," do you think that it is just or sane to say that a 10 year old deserves an eternity of torture for their sins/sinful nature/"cosmic treason..."?

Do you see why some people would call claims that, Yes, a one, ten, 14 year old "deserves" an eternity of torture, that these are crazy and evil sounding claims? If not, really? You honestly can't see that?

Craig said...

Dan,

I've dealt with your dead baby scenario before, multiple times, do you really think my view on this has changed? Do you really not know what my answer is? Are you that unaware of the Orthodox position on this?

So there's your answer. I'm sure you'll whine, you'll probably ask the same question another 10-15 times, and it wouldn't shock me if you deleted this.

Why do you care, why not just decide what my response is and attribute that to me, it would save me a bunch of time, and it's what you'll end up doing anyway.

Dan Trabue said...

Craig, I do not know what your position is on the questions I have asked. That is why I've asked them.

And with your answer above, I STILL do not know what your answer is to my questions.

As to any orthodox positions, I have rarely if ever seen them deal with the specifics of this question. Like you and Stan, they tend to skirt around the issue, but don't deal with them head on.

I'm asking these questions of you head on, because I have gotten no direct answers from any conservative reading or preaching I'm familiar with. The reason for answering them head on, directly, is because if there is a group of Christians who truly believe that infants are "tainted" with "original sin," that they "lie from the womb," that they are "evil in every way" and other sorts of phrases evangelicals use, these beg some serious questions. If you believe a one day old infant "deserves" an eternity in torture, then be clear about it.

I think the problem in confronting these questions head on is that any answers you give some patently absurd, insane and/or overtly evil. But if a theology can't withstand the "hard" questions, then of what use is it?

So, if you have answered this before, it seems like it would be easy to answer now. Is it a super-complex answer that takes pages and pages to address? Is that why you're unwilling to address it here?

These are reasonable questions, Craig, don't you see that? Why wouldn't you be prepared to answer them?

Craig said...

Well when you categorize my answers as absurd, insane, or evil without being able to recall our earlier fruitless discussion along these lines you make answering you again really attractive.

So, given the fact that you've prejudged my answers already, I think I'll pass as it's clear that open honest dialogue is not on the agenda.

Dan Trabue said...

As I said, the answers one might give (that was a generic "you," in case it wasn't clear) in defending that position SOUND patently insane, absurd, evil, on the face of it. But, perhaps I'm wrong. Perhaps if someone - anyone, EVER - tried to actually answer these questions, they could make their case effectively and make me see, "Oh, why that's quite reasonable, actually..." I can be convinced. This is obvious/demonstrable from the reality that I have changed my mind on positions, I can be convinced that I'm mistaken, even in cases where I have held extremely strong opinions.

BUT, in order to be convinced, someone would have to, you know, actually answer the questions being asked.

Now, if your theology can't stand up to reasonable questions, perhaps you are right in refusing to answer them. The question then becomes, why do you hold these positions if you are not able to answer reasonable questions?

Craig said...

You do understand that me referring you to previous answers is not refusing to answer, don't you? You do understand that your questions are not objectively reasonable simply because you say so, don't you? You do understand that labeling others answers as absurd, false, or insane before you know what they are inhibits conversation, don't you. You do understand......, no you don't and that's a problem.

Dan Trabue said...

Craig, here's a claim:

God is perfectly just AND God thinks that newborn babies are inherently evil, liars at birth, and these sins are deserving of an eternity of torture, even for a newborn infant, that's how evil they - and all of humanity - are.

That claim begs some huge and reasonable questions.

HOW does a newborn "lie"? In what sense are they evil/sinful? How is it just to sentence someone to an eternity of torture for relatively minor sins and/or a human sinful nature?

These ARE reasonable questions. Do you honestly disagree? I can't imagine you do.

And I'm telling you that MANY reasonable, moral people find the claim that a newborn "deserves" an eternity of torture DOES sound evil and crazy and irrational. Do you honestly not understand how such a claim would be greeted thusly?

And if you are not prepared to answer these questions, why would anyone give the crazy and evil-sounding theory even a second's worth of thought? Look, Craig, you appear to be of the opinion that the answers to these questions are obvious and have been answered thoroughly before by earlier Christians. If so, then simply point to that place where these specific questions have been answered.

Again, I ask: Is it the case that the answer to these questions takes more than one paragraph? More than three? These seem like relatively simple and straightforward questions that are begged by your side's claims. Is there NO ONE anywhere prepared to answer them?

Finally, you do understand that you saying you answered previously without providing any link is not an answer worth anything?

Seriously, brother, I'm beginning to think you're not interested in dialog or defending your position at all, these comments of yours are too evasive and irrational. One final thing to consider: If you don't think I deserve an answer, what of the others who come here to read these exchanges? I have - not much, but some - regular traffic through this blog. In reading these sorts of exchanges, I can tell you that people see me asking reasonable questions, relatively politely and getting nothing in response and with each group of people that sees that, the conservative evangelicals become that much more hard to take seriously. If you won't answer for me, why not the others out there who would love to see someone try to actually defend a position that seems otherwise entirely irrational.