Friday, November 05, 2010

Intervention

A participant in the recent comment box lynch mob regarding my brief comment on the late Former Fundy's recent passing into eternity wrote me a personal note.
I'm writing to you because Patrick Chan pointed out to me that you have a personal email attached to your blogger account.  I posted some comments on the Triablogue blog that were partly in response to your
comment on the Nov 1 posting to Ken Pulliam's blog.  Patrick was absolutely correct that I should have checked your blogger account to see if you had an email address attached.  I have wanted to email Steve
and Peter Pike before but they don't post an address.  I assumed you all had the same practice.  I know, I know!

It's not worth it to keep hashing over the issue, but since I now know you have an email I figured I ought to send you something.  I used to be a pastor in my evangelical days.  I also have been an elder in evangelical reformed, PCA, and PCUSA churches of various sorts on and off for over 25 years.  Never, never, never in all that time have I seen or heard anybody, pastor, elder, or layperson, make comments about a deceased person as obnoxious as your comment about Ken Pulliam.  And yes, I've been to and officiated at funerals of some pretty notoriously wicked people.  And yes, the gospel was preached, all of it, including God's judgment, hell, and heaven.

How many other Christians do you know who say things like this to or in the presence of grieving family members?  How old are you?  Have any close family members die?  Ever been the executor for someone's estate? If you haven't I suppose you could be partly excused.  Most likely, somebody from Ken's immediate family is going to go through his blog, especially the more recent parts, possibly this week, possibly next
week, and they are going to hit your comment.  Want to guess what kind of an impression it's going to make?

I read your post on your own blog about Ken's death.  That post appeared to me to be thoughtful and appropriate, until you got to the part where you defended your comment.  If only you had restrained yourself to that post!
 Hello,

I have asked and asked and asked, I don't know how many times, in the relevant comboxes, those who are abusing me to explain what was so bad about my comment.  All have declined to explain themselves.  You seem levelheaded, which is a rare find, and so I'd like to ask you the same question.  Please paste the comment in its entirety so I can know which one you're talking about and then explain its "obnoxious" content.

Also, since you claim to have been a Christian for a longer stretch than I have so far been, what would you say is the Bible's general evaluation of knowledgeable apostates, who attempt to turn people's hearts away from Jesus?  Maybe rate it on a scale of 1 to 10, where 1 is your basic hellspawn and 10 is straight from the lips of God Himself. 

Your other questions:
-I don't know too many other Christians who would.  There are some I admire who would, yes.  Many of the others I know need to practice being a bit more offensive for the sake of the Gospel.
-A public blog is hardly "the presence of grieving family members".  What are these grieving family mbrs doing checking the comboxes of a blog whose content is known to be controversial and contentious, unless they're looking for a little something beyond condolences from ppl they care about?  Virtually all the commenters are unknown to them personally.
-These family mbrs are under the impression that Dr Pulliam is in heaven b/c of a profession of faith made decades ago, his later actions notwithstanding. Will they be as open to listening to the voice of reason later?  Maybe, maybe not.
-My age is irrelevant, and can be found with a little investigative work if someone has it in their head to set themselves up for commission of the genetic fallacy.
-My own child died.  Is that close enough a heartbreak for you, sir? 
-No, never executor of an estate.
-The impression I wanted to make I made.  I got all the atheists and mockers to show their true colors, using MUCH more abusive language of me than I *EVER* used of Pulliam, dead or alive.  I got them to show that their expressions of evolutionary ethics are just abstract to them, to be disposed of when convenient.  I also brought Pulliam's online life back into focus - the man spent ALL his online time, not a little of it, to tear down the Bible and its message and its Savior. 

Peace,
Rhology

So far, no reply, but I guess that fits the non-responses from everyone else.

71 comments:

Andrew said...

Rhology,

You big, stupid, dumb meanie!

Booker Z said...

The Ken discussion has died down and you appear upset you're not getting the negative attention you crave. So you're showing everyone your butt all over again.

You're one classy dude.

Lvka said...

You're preaching Christianity in a very non-Christian and even anti-Christian manner: try to immitate Jesus Christ, not John Calvin, ok?

John said...

I think there needs to be more Christians like you and the good folks at Westboro Baptist who simply speak what they really think, whatever the pain it inflicts on people.

Who was that comment left for Ken Pulliam directed at, pray tell? Ken's passed on. He didn't read it. No, sir, your comment was intended for his family. We're not idiots.

The more Christianity is shown for the ugly farce that it is, the more your desperately malicious heart exposes itself when you clearly take pride and enjoyment out of inflicting sorrow on other people , the greater likelihood it will be repudiated by all people of good will.

Keep on doing exactly what you've been doing. Please.

steve said...

Of course, Dean Dough is an apostate minister, just like Pulliam (and Loftus), so it's hardly a surprise that he came out swinging.

steve said...

John,

I think there needs to be more infidels like you and Hitchens and Dawkins who simply speak what they really think, whatever the pain it inflicts on people.

You're exploiting Ken's family as a pretext to take potshots at Christianity.

The more atheism is shown for the ugly farce that it is, the more your desperately malicious heart exposes itself when you clearly take pride and enjoyment out of inflicting sorrow on other people , the greater likelihood it will be repudiated by all people of good will.

Keep on doing exactly what you've been doing. Please.

Brabble Frabbitz said...

Steve, I'm sure Jesus is beaming, looking down at you with radiant smiles of approval.

You bring up one of these chicken-and-egg questions. Did your Calvinist religion make you the inwardly grotesque, animus-filled miscreant you are? Or were you attracted to that faith because it was a venue for expressing qualities you already had?

Which is it? Inquiring minds want to know.

Brabble Frabbitz said...

I take comfort in the existence of Steve Hayes, J.P. Holding and Fred Phelps. It means that no matter how bad I may be, there's always somebody out there who's my moral inferior.

steve said...

Brabble Frabbitz,

So many choice adjectives chasing a nonexistent argument. Thanks for illustrating, once again, that militant infidels are good at emoting and gesticulating, but ever so bad at rudimentary reasoning.

Unless and until you can mount something resembling a rational argument to back up your fits of feigned indignation, your disapproval has all the moral force of a malfunctioning coffee maker.

Brabble Frabbitz said...

You pompous jerk. Your parallel statement of John's post was no well-reasoned argument, either. This is your pattern. You reserve for yourself the right to throw handfulls of crap at others. And when someone throws it back, you righteously articulate some phony intellectual indignation -- then demand well-reasoned responses only. As if that's what you yourself practice all the time.

I can't stomach arrogant hypocrites.

steve said...

Brabble Frabbitz said...

"I take comfort in the existence of Steve Hayes, J.P. Holding and Fred Phelps. It means that no matter how bad I may be, there's always somebody out there who's my moral inferior."

You're long on attitude, but short on argument. Thanks for reminding us that atheism is all about image-projection.

"You pompous jerk. Your parallel statement of John's post was no well-reasoned argument, either."

I answered him on his own terms. I can only do so much with the poor material that he gave me. Bricks w/o straw.

"I can't stomach arrogant hypocrites."

Well, I'm sorry if I gave you a tummy ache. Try Rolaids.

Oh, and since you bring up the issue of hypocrisy, what about moral relativists who moralize?

Brabble Frabbitz said...

OK, I have a knack for spouting off, then realizing the need to restrict my comments to rational argumentation. And you are right about that, of course. Not that you necessarily follow the standard you demand from everyone else - you do not. But in theory, I've got to agree.

So I withdraw such comments as "pompous jerk," apologize and resolve to henceforth restrict myself (as much as my humanity allows) to arguments.

I doubt any conceivable arguments (real or hypothetical) can really persuade an unpersuadable person. But ... OK.

John said...

Steve writes: "You're exploiting Ken's family as a pretext to take potshots at Christianity."

Rhoblogy made his post first, not I, you insufferable twit. I don't go around to the blogs of dead Christians and make a point of telling them their lives were meaningless.

Let me ask you: have you ever known an atheist to speak at a funeral about how the deceased is "nowhere"?

I haven't.

On the other hand, how many Christians take the opportunity at funerals to talk about eternal punishment or the eternal Hellfire that the deceased may or may not be suffering in? Plenty.

Look, you spend countless hours a day venting your negativity. You're so immersed in it you don't even see what a joke it's become.

They just released a new version of Saw. You should go watch it. It features people getting ripped open, flayed, burnt, stabbed, gouged, etc. Maybe you'll find it cathartic.

Brabble Frabbitz said...

"On the other hand, how many Christians take the opportunity at funerals to talk about eternal punishment or the eternal Hellfire that the deceased may or may not be suffering in?"

No doubt, they think they're giving fair warning about this terrible fate, so that everyone is "without excuse." But they rarely address the vexing difficulty that, despite the Old Testament revelation, no one seemed to know about eternal hellfire for thousands of years. People were dying and going to perdition in droves while the prophets warned people about comparatively trifling dangers on this side of the grave -- pestilence, captivity, etc. Note the exacting detail in Deuteronomy about the punishments for disobedience, but not a syllable about post-mortem torments.

The ususal explanation for this is either, (1) God doesn't have to warn anybody about anything, so shut your trap, or (2) the Old Testament does contain warnings of hell, which you can see by digging deep below the surface and piling up a bunch of arguments that never would have occurred to anyone.

Maybe Rhology or Mr. Hays have some other equally compelling answer to this. I'd like to hear it.

Rhology said...

This is hilarious. You atheists realise you're falling right into my trap, don't you?

No, of course not. You're too blinded by your self-righteous hypocritical mitres as Popes of Morality when it suits you to put them on.


Scenario 1:
Christian says Action X (say, homosexual sex) is morally wrong.
These atheists respond: "Who are you to dictate morality for the rest of us? Morals are relative anyway!"

Scenario 2:
Christian does something that these atheists don't like.
These atheists respond: "Anathema sit! You're a horrible person!"

Why not just respond the same way both times?

Rhology said...

Brabble,

Why should it matter what "ppl for 1000s of yrs knew"? Millions of ppl TODAY have never heard of Jesus.
Don't you know we're Calvinists? and what that means? You won't like the explanation, but that's OK - I've not seen your credentials as Pope of Morality, endued with authority to condemn others, you judgmental hypocrite.


trifling

More moralising. You'll pardon us for not bending the knee to your superior moral authority w/o some evidence you have some.


(2) the Old Testament does contain warnings of hell, which you can see by digging deep below the surface and piling up a bunch of arguments that never would have occurred to anyone.

You mean other than to those to whom it occurred, like the prophets who received the messages and those who believed what the prophets said?
Do you not tire of hearing your own lips flap?

Brabble Frabbitz said...

OK, I hear insults but no answers. You're perpetually bellyaching about the lack of argument in your detractors' comments. I gave you one. What's your response? Why is the OT silent on eternal damnation?

steve said...

John said...

“Rhoblogy made his post first, not I, you insufferable twit.”

Which doesn’t prevent you from exploiting the situation to your own advantage.

“I don't go around to the blogs of dead Christians and make a point of telling them their lives were meaningless.”

Instead, you go around telling everyone who will listen how offensive the comment is, thereby assuring, as best you can, that those who didn’t already know about it will be offended. So much for your affectation of concern.

“Let me ask you: have you ever known an atheist to speak at a funeral about how the deceased is ‘nowhere’?”

So you’re admitting that atheism is not something we should talk about in settings where it actually makes a difference.

“They just released a new version of Saw. You should go watch it.”

I don’t keep up with the various installments of the Saw franchise. So that says more about your viewing proclivities, not mine.

“It features people getting ripped open, flayed, burnt, stabbed, gouged, etc.”

From a secular standpoint, what’s wrong with that?

“But they rarely address the vexing difficulty that, despite the Old Testament revelation, no one seemed to know about eternal hellfire for thousands of years. People were dying and going to perdition in droves while the prophets warned people about comparatively trifling dangers on this side of the grave -- pestilence, captivity, etc.”

i) To the contrary, the prophets do mention hell (Isa 66:24; Dan 12:2).

ii) That’s also implicit in certain Proverbial statements regarding the divergent fate awaiting the righteous and the wicked.

iii) But even if the OT were silent on the subject, that doesn’t mean no one knew about it. It could just as well mean everyone knew about it. Some things aren’t mentioned because they’re so familiar that everybody takes them for granted.

Pilgrimsarbour said...

I have had many positive interactions with Rhology, as well as with many agnostics, atheists, Roman Catholics and others. Whatever I may think about what Dr. Pulliam taught and what he did or did not believe, I think we have to be careful what we post. In spite of how I feel about someone's beliefs, even apostasy, I never post everything I'm thinking or feeling. I am far from perfect in this regard, but a little self-control is in order, especially in these venues. And though it would not have been my choice to post a statement of "pity" for someone passing into eternity, I was disappointed to see how the whole thing got blown up way out of proportion to the perceived original slight. Most of the insults and language in response were far worse than Rhology's original comment, in my view, and could only serve to prolong the suffering of any family member who might be reading the combox, thereby defeating the purpose of posting condolences for the family.

(also posted at Dr. Pulliam's blog)

David said...

I propose a simple solution.

Alan, go ask your mother. I'm dead serious. Really. Go ask your mother.

If your mother approves, you win. If you mother says that you should work on your manners, then stop trying to rationalize your actions and move on.

Brabble Frabbitz said...

Thanks for responding, Steve. Again, I regret my earlier jerkiness.

You said: To the contrary, the prophets do mention hell (Isa 66:24; Dan 12:2).

Here's the Isaiah text: "And they will go out and look on the dead bodies of those who rebelled against me; the worms that eat them will not die, the fire that burns them will not be quenched, and they will be loathsome to all mankind."

In this description, we have dead bodies being eaten by worms and burned with fire. From that short-on-specifics description, I don't see how someone is supposed to extrapolate that the dead will be in an immortal state, screaming out forever in torment. The text says nothing of the sort. All of that must be read into it.

Besides, even if Isaiah did unambiguously set forth the doctrine of endless torments, there's still the problem that no one before Isaiah says anything about it with any clarity whatsoever. From Abraham through Isaiah - that's a long, long period of silence about such a terrible fate awaiting everyone after death.

Here's the Daniel text: "Multitudes who sleep in the dust of the earth will awake: some to everlasting life, others to shame and everlasting contempt."

It certainly isn't a "given" that "everlasting shame and contempt" are the same thing as being eternally tortured in an imperishable body. It could just as easily mean that the condemned will always be regarded with contempt and will be an everlating byword. This text simply lacks the doctrinal specifics you're extracting from it. And again, what about people living before Daniel? How could they have known??

Steve: That’s also implicit in certain Proverbial statements regarding the divergent fate awaiting the righteous and the wicked.

If you're saying it's implied that the wicked go to a place of everlasting torment, I disagree profoundly. Even if we clearly see a concept of the wicked and righteous going to different "places," there's nothing in that to suggest endless torments.

But an even greater difficulty is that so many OT texts teach the opposite: that the wicked and righteous don't go to different places, but all descend to sheol where they sleep with their fathers. Ecclesiastes even questions whether humans and animals go to different places (3:18-20).

Steve: But even if the OT were silent on the subject, that doesn’t mean no one knew about it. It could just as well mean everyone knew about it. Some things aren’t mentioned because they’re so familiar that everybody takes them for granted.

Far from "hell" being familiar, the ancient Hebrews don't even appear to believe with any consistency that the dead are conscious, let alone going to different places. Odd that no one would have mentioned hellfire, given its dreadful severity.

This doesn't sound at all like the OT saints believed in a doctrine of souls in heave or hell:

"For the living know that they shall die: but the dead know not any thing, neither have they any more a reward; for the memory of them is forgotten. Also their love, and their hatred, and their envy, is now perished; neither have they any more a portion for ever in any thing that is done under the sun."

More likely, this belief came over from Persia and made inroads during the captivity. It certainly doesn't appear to be in anyone's mind before that point in history.

steve said...

i) You're shifting the goalpost when you introduce the qualification of everlasting "torture."

And that's an atheistic caricature of hell.

ii) You also disregard alternative explanations of Ecclesiastes, such as we find in Waltke's OT theology.

iii) Dating Daniel (or Isaiah) late won't salvage your contention since liberals also date Ecclesiastes late. So even if (ad arguendo) we interpret Ecclesiastes your way, chronology doesn't save your theory.

iv) You're also shifting the goalpost from first insinuating that the OT is silent on the topic to your fallback claim that the OT speaks with more than one voice on the topic.

Rhology said...

You don't know my mother, dude.

Rhology said...

It certainly isn't a "given" that "everlasting shame and contempt" are the same thing as being eternally tortured in an imperishable body.

Well, it's not easy to see how it could be something else.

steve said...

I see that David suffers from a Freudian mother-complex. No wonder he's an atheist. He suffers from arrested development.

Brabble Frabbitz said...

Steve: "You're also shifting the goalpost from first insinuating that the OT is silent on the topic to your fallback claim that the OT speaks with more than one voice on the topic."

No, I maintain the OT is silent on hell as an abode of the wicked who suffer torments after death. And you haven't shown otherwise, except to introduce texts that fail to uphold your hell concept with any plainness.

Brabble Frabbitz said...

Rhology: "Well, it's not easy to see how it could be something else."

If you're not superimposing foregone conclusions on the text, it is easy to see how it could be a lot of different things. Strange that anyone would describe a place of fire and torment strictly in terms of "shame" and "contempt."

David said...

"I see that David suffers from a Freudian mother-complex. He suffers from arrested development."

Maybe you need to talk to your mother, too. What I'm suggesting is that mothers are generally good guides in the matter of manners. Any problem with that? Why the need to respond with insult?

"You don't know my mother, dude."

Well, no, but that doesn't really answer the question.

steve said...

David said...

"Maybe you need to talk to your mother, too. What I'm suggesting is that mothers are generally good guides in the matter of manners."

i) So you're a sexist as well as an atheist. Thanks for the clarification.

ii) Atheists have made many ill-mannered remarks about Alan's comment. Should they talk to their mother's, too?

steve said...

David said...

"Maybe you need to talk to your mother, too. What I'm suggesting is that mothers are generally good guides in the matter of manners. Any problem with that? Why the need to respond with insult?"

Because you can't argue for your position, you resort to emotional leverage.

David said...

"So you're a sexist as well as an atheist."

Ok, Alan can ask his father, too, if he'd like. He can ask whoever taught him manners when he was young.

"Atheists have made many ill-mannered remarks about Alan's comment. Should they talk to their mother's, too?"

Actually, yes, that might be a good idea, too.

"Because you can't argue for your position, you resort to emotional leverage."

Emotional leverage? I don't get it. What does this have to do with emotional leverage?

The issue here is primarily one of good manners. Mothers know good manners (don't you agree?), Alan clearly isn't going to listen to anyone else, no matter how many times they argue their position. So maybe he'd listen to his mother.

What's so wrong about my suggestion?

David said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
David said...

By the way, is an insult on your part supposed to be a rational, reasoned and intellectual argument for your position? Just trying to figure out the rules here.

Rhology said...

Brabble,

I maintain the OT is silent on hell as an abode of the wicked who suffer torments after death.

Yes, I know that. And since you're clearly impervious to evidence, I have every confidence you'll continue to maintain such.
Besides, why not engage our arguments that start with "but even if the OT were silent..."?



David,
What does this have to do with emotional leverage?

Sorry you haven't been paying attention, but every single rebuke from atheists to me has been emotional. "You're mean!" "You're pissing on a man's grave!" "You're a brutish boor!" Stuff like that. And despite many requests to provide an argument on why my comment was morally wrong, none has been forthcoming.


The issue here is primarily one of good manners.

Ie, emotions. Mil gracias.

Brabble Frabbitz said...

"... you're clearly impervious to evidence ..."

But your evidence doesn't support your assertion. While it's true that tossing out a scrap of "something ... anything" may be more than sufficient for your peers in the Bible-believing church, the rest of us are looking for something that actually substantiates your point. Are we asking too much?

Again, neither you nor Steve have shown that the OT suggests the wicked dead go to a place of never-ending torments after death.

Your method is so ridiculously transparent. Produce a weak answer, then compensate for its weakness by criticizing the questioner, parsing his words, finding inconsistencies and logical chinks in the question itself.

Very poor.

Rhology said...

And the part where you deal with the "even if the OT doesn't teach it"...?

Brabble Frabbitz said...

Steve: You're shifting the goalpost when you introduce the qualification of everlasting "torture." And that's an atheistic caricature of hell.

Here's part of a sermon by decidedly non-atheist C.H. Spurgeon dated February 17, 1856:

"And what say the wicked? 'We do not care about metaphorical fires.' But they are real, sir—yes, as real as yourself. There is a real fire in hell, as truly as you have now a real body—a fire exactly like that which we have on earth in everything except this—that it will not consume, though it will torture you. You have seen the asbestos lying in the fire red hot, but when you take it out it is unconsumed." [emphasis mine]

David said...

I see that you do not wish to take the Mother Test. From this, I think that we can conclude what your mother would tell you. Would you demand that she provide book-length argument, too?

"Sorry you haven't been paying attention, but every single rebuke from atheists to me has been emotional."

Well, yes, we're talking about emotions here. We're talking about the emotional pain connected to death and to the way in which others chose to either comfort or to add to the pain. You've clearly chosen the later.

Do you really believe that this is what Jesus would have you do? Do you honestly believe that your comments have accomplished a single positive thing? Hasn't the reaction to your comments taught you that all you've done is drive people away from Christianity? Was this your goal?

"And despite many requests to provide an argument on why my comment was morally wrong, none has been forthcoming."

You've received numerous arguments and you've ignored them all. You've received arguments from theists, deists, atheist, you name it. You've ignored them all. You could have learned from these arguments, but your pride and your vanity have prevented this. Instead, you just can't let this go, let alone apologize, and at this point, you're just making yourself look smaller and sadder.

In any event, this has not been so much a discussion of morals as it has been a discussion of basic courtesy, defined by Sir Kenneth Clark as "the ritual by which we avoid hurting other people’s feelings by satisfying our own egos". Is this not consistent with the teachings of the NT?

Rhology said...

We're talking about the emotional pain connected to death and to the way in which others chose to either comfort or to add to the pain.

No doubt it's futile for me to ask WHY it's a bad thing to "add to the pain". But I'll ask anyway. My prediction - you'll just repeat yourself or think up some other family member I should confer with.



Do you really believe that this is what Jesus would have you do?

Read the Bible psgs I included in my post.
Yes, and in fact He has done the same thing.
Luke 13: 1Now on the same occasion there were some present who reported to Him about the Galileans whose blood Pilate had mixed with their sacrifices. 2And Jesus said to them, “Do you suppose that these Galileans were greater sinners than all other Galileans because they suffered this fate? 3“I tell you, no, but unless you repent, you will all likewise perish. 4“Or do you suppose that those eighteen on whom the tower in Siloam fell and killed them were worse culprits than all the men who live in Jerusalem? 5“I tell you, no, but unless you repent, you will all likewise perish.”
6And He began telling this parable: “A man had a fig tree which had been planted in his vineyard; and he came looking for fruit on it and did not find any. 7“And he said to the vineyard-keeper, ‘Behold, for three years I have come looking for fruit on this fig tree without finding any. Cut it down! Why does it even use up the ground?’ 8“And he answered and said to him, ‘Let it alone, sir, for this year too, until I dig around it and put in fertilizer; 9and if it bears fruit next year, fine; but if not, cut it down.’”


Do you honestly believe that your comments have accomplished a single positive thing?

Most definitely - it successfully baited dozens of atheists to hypocritically condemn me in MUCH more strident terms than I ever used of Pulliam, yet w/o a moral basis for doing so. Nobody has even tried.



Hasn't the reaction to your comments taught you that all you've done is drive people away from Christianity?

Um, such people are already far away from Christianity.
Everyone is, apart from the work of the Holy Spirit. Not my job. It's merely my job to proclaim the truth, and ape Jesus.


You've received numerous arguments and you've ignored them all

Haha. Sure I have. Anyone can read the whole interaction and know what a whopper that is.


but your pride and your vanity have prevented this.

Mindreading!

David said...

I heard the following story many years ago.

There once was a native chief who was about to be burned at the stake by Christian missionaries. The missionaries pleaded with the man to believe in Jesus so that he could go to heaven. The chief looked as the missionaries and said, "why would I want to go to place filled with Christians?"

You're a sad little child, but you win. The pain from banging my head against the wall is now too great. I see that you've succeeded in finding a faith that lets you be who and what you really and truly are, and so this is a futile, You know, some things are complicated and some things are simple. Even my dog knows an asshole when he sees one.

Rhology said...

Ah, I see. Don't answer my questions, condemn me by speciously comparing me to an action I'd wholeheartedly condemn, and run away. Don't let the door hitcha.

steve said...

David said...

"Emotional leverage? I don't get it. What does this have to do with emotional leverage?"

You don't get it because you suffer from a mother-fixation. However, normal grown men don't consider Mommy to be the moral arbiter of the universe. You substitute infantile bathos for adult reason.

"The issue here is primarily one of good manners. Mothers know good manners (don't you agree?)."

Why would I agree to such a patently false statement? Some mother's are well-mannered while other mother's are ill-mannered.

"So maybe he'd listen to his mother. What's so wrong about my suggestion?"

Because grown men ought to cut the umbilical cord.

Men shouldn't act like women, and women shouldn't act like men. If soft, effeminate men represent your ideal of manhood, that's your business–but Alan has a heteronormative standard of conduct.

steve said...

David said...

"Well, yes, we're talking about emotions here. We're talking about the emotional pain connected to death and to the way in which others chose to either comfort or to add to the pain. You've clearly chosen the later."

Except that Alan's atheistic critics don't care about the pain and suffering of the family. Otherwise they wouldn't leave all those profane, anti-Christian, invective-laden comments on Pulliam's blog. Surely that's not edifying to his grieving family members if any of them happened to be reading his blog.

What we have, instead, are some pent-up infidels who were spoiling for any excuse they could contrive to unload on Christians and the Christian faith.

They cloak this in mock concern for the feelings of the family, but the tone of their comments is hardly designed to comfort mourners.

To the contrary, since many of Pulliam's family and old friends are still Christian, it's scarcely consoling to them to read all these nasty comments about Christians and Christianity.

David said...

Ah, tag-team assholes. Sweet.

Didn't run, Alan. Just got tired of wasting my time.

David said...

Maybe you'll listen to Calvinists.

http://teampyro.blogspot.com/2010/11/second-great-commandment.html

Rhology said...

Ah, and you're the best judge of what love is, I assume. You don't need to answer any of our questions. Don't need to back up your claims with evidence and arguments. Don't need to explain WHY it's not loving, or how Jesus did the same as me and yet is Himself love. Just need to drop the "you're not loving" card and run. Door. Hitcha.

David said...

Damn. You won't even listen to Calvinists. Wish I'd known this from the start. Would have saved a lot of time.

steve said...

David said...

"Ah, tag-team assholes. Sweet."

Thanks for illustrating, once more, the kinder and gentler rhetoric of the atheist. Nice to see you lead by example.

steve said...

Brabble Frabbitz said...

"Again, neither you nor Steve have shown that the OT suggests the wicked dead go to a place of never-ending torments after death."

The Isaian imagery of unquenchable fire and immortal maggots graphically suggests eternal misery. If the dead were consumed by fire and maggots, the fire would go out and the maggots would starve.

I'd also add that the imagery is distinctly unpleasant–and intentionally so.

Likewise, the Danielic language of everlasting shame and contempt clearly enunciates eternal misery.

Your quote from Spurgeon is a bait-and-switch since the question at issue is not what a Victorian Baptist believed, but what the Bible teaches.

Moreover, Spurgeon hardly speaks for Christian tradition generally on this issue. Consider Turretin's metaphorical treatment of hellfire.

David said...

"Nice to see you lead by example."

Actually, when it comes to argument by insult, smear and "kinder and gentler rhetoric", I am but a rank amateur when compared to the incomparable Mr. Hays. I bow to the king.

Brabble Frabbitz said...

Yes, I know Spurgeon doesn't speak for all Christians. But the quote does weaken your claim that "torture" is strictly an atheist caricature. (How else would someone characterize an existence in a fiery hell?)

Immortal maggots, eh. The text doesn't call for that. Nor does your assertion about unquenchable fire prove anything. If a group of firemen are incapable of putting out a fire, it "cannot be quenched." But that certainly doesn't mean the fire burns on for all eternity. There are temporal judgments mentioned in the Old Testament that involve "unquenchable fire." I'm always amazed at how theology so predisposes people to see things that aren't there.

Remember, we're looking at dead bodies in this text, not souls or imperishable resurrection bodies. You may want to read it over again, because you seem to have sailed right past that point. And this is your proof! Dead bodies being eaten by worms -- enough flesh to ensure they don't die -- somehow proves souls writhing in eternal torment for eternity?! (Complete with immortal maggots to provide a touch of ambience.)

Imagine if an Arminian opponent of yours passed off a prooftext in which several elements of his thesis had to be read into the text. You'd hand the guy his hat in about 30 seconds. And yet, that exactly what you're doing here, unashamedly.

As for Daniel, you know as well as I that there are many places in which the wicked become a hissing and a byword forever -- objects of never-ending shame. We have plenty of precendent for this idea being at least possible for the Daniel text. Nothing demands fire or torments. Certainly not immortal maggots.

No person reading just the Old Testament, no matter how analytically, could possibly come away with the common notion of hell. The fact that your best proofs are so threadbare only underscores the point.

steve said...

Brabble Frabbitz said...

“Immortal maggots, eh. The text doesn't call for that.”

Indeed it does. If the maggot never dies, then the maggot is immortal–in which case the human host shares in the immortality of the maggot.

“Nor does your assertion about unquenchable fire prove anything. If a group of firemen are incapable of putting out a fire, it "cannot be quenched." But that certainly doesn't mean the fire burns on for all eternity.”

If you wish to gloss the fire/maggot imagery in the manner of the annihilationist would, then it’s nonsensical for you to turn around and blame God for failing to warn sinners of everlasting “torture.” For on your own interpretation, the operative terms don’t demand unending duration. Likewise, your interpretive approach would also apply to NT imagery, which carries over the stock imagery of OT judgments.

As such, you’ve backed yourself into a dilemma:

You can’t say that God failed to warn sinners of everlasting “torture” unless there’s some reason to postulate everlasting “torture” as the otherwise unspoken fate which awaits them.

But if, on the one hand, Scripture does, indeed, teach everlasting “torture,” and cognate language is employed in both the OT and NT alike to denote that fate, then God did indeed forewarn them.

If, on the other hand, you relativize all this terminology, then you remove the basis for asserting a dire fate which God failed to reveal.

Hence, your objection is incoherent.

“There are temporal judgments mentioned in the Old Testament that involve ‘unquenchable fire.’ I'm always amazed at how theology so predisposes people to see things that aren't there.”

i) Off-hand, the only specific OT verbal parallel I can recall would be Jer 17:27. Yet you insinuate that this usage is fairly common.

ii) In any case, an obvious flaw in your argument is the context of temporal judgments. It’s the context that delimits the force. But the viewpoint of Isa 66 is eschatological.

“Remember, we're looking at dead bodies in this text, not souls or imperishable resurrection bodies. You may want to read it over again, because you seem to have sailed right past that point. And this is your proof! Dead bodies being eaten by worms -- enough flesh to ensure they don't die -- somehow proves souls writhing in eternal torment for eternity?! (Complete with immortal maggots to provide a touch of ambience.)”

i) You disregard the parallel between the fate of the righteous and the wicked in Isa 66.

ii) You also overlook the association of the Hinnom valley with the netherworld via the cult of Molech, a god of the underworld (e.g. Isa 57:9), in whose name and place the valley was defiled by child sacrifice.

iii) And (ii) is reinforced by the eschatological perspective of Isa 66.

“As for Daniel, you know as well as I that there are many places in which the wicked become a hissing and a byword forever -- objects of never-ending shame. We have plenty of precendent for this idea being at least possible for the Daniel text. Nothing demands fire or torments. Certainly not immortal maggots.”

Well that’s silly. I wasn’t proposing that you transfer the imagery from one text to another.

Paul C said...

"If the maggot never dies, then the maggot is immortal–in which case the human host shares in the immortality of the maggot."

This doesn't make any kind of sense, but I suppose that's only to be expected. Tell us, Steve, how the immortality of a maggot magically confers immortality on its human host?

Brabble Frabbitz said...

It remains to be seen how the ancient Hebrews might employ the complex, nuanced set of interpretations necessary to derive a belief in the orthodox hell - a belief that would provide a legitimate warning of what's ahead. As stated earlier, God appears to give such detailed warnings about temporal judgments in the OT. So why would there be no similar unambiguous warnings about endless torments after death? And what were the Hebrews supposed to do who lived before this alleged revelation of hell from Isaiah and Daniel?

steve said...

Paul C said...

"This doesn't make any kind of sense, but I suppose that's only to be expected. Tell us, Steve, how the immortality of a maggot magically confers immortality on its human host?"

They never die because they never run out of a food source. That's the thrust of the imagery.

Brabble Frabbitz said...

To put a sharper point on this, I'm trying to imagine someone around the time of Isaiah hearing or reading that prophecy and concluding, "This account of death, destruction and corpses being eaten by maggots isn't what it appears to be. It's obviously eschatological. It's clear that unless I repent, I'm going to a place of torment after I die, where I'll exist forever and suffer the wrath of YHWH."

It's easy for orthodox Christians, with such a highly defined doctrine of hell in their brains, to look at these texts and see endless torments. But the people who would have needed such warnings most - people ignorant of the Christian hell - would have been hard pressed to unpack the text in such a manner.

steve said...

And how is Isa 65-66 not obviously eschatological?

You're just pretending that this is hard to see. And there's no doubt that when you shut your eyes to the truth, that makes it hard to see.

Brabble Frabbitz said...

I'm not addressing whether or not the Isaiah text is eschatological. My point is that an OT person would be very unlikely to extract "a place of eternal torment for the dead" from any of these texts. Had you lived back then, I doubt you would have either, despite your analytical acumen.

Eyes shut, eh? Your argument here is essentially, "I see the Christian doctrine of hell in these texts and if you don't, you have simply chosen not to see it." Of course, that's a bare assertion incapable of refutation (a tactic you complain about when others use it). But it's all rhetorical rope-a-dope. Reformed Christians often assert that disagreement with them is due to the inner depravity of the dissenter. It's the last resort of someone who has lost an argument.

Brabble Frabbitz said...

I'm not addressing whether or not the Isaiah text is eschatological. My point is that an OT person would be very unlikely to extract "a place of eternal torment for the dead" from any of these texts. Had you lived back then, I doubt you would have either, despite your analytical acumen.

Eyes shut, eh? Your argument here is essentially, "I see the Christian doctrine of hell in these texts and if you don't, you have simply chosen not to see it." Of course, that's a bare assertion incapable of refutation (a tactic you complain about when others use it). But it's all rhetorical rope-a-dope. Reformed Christians often assert that disagreement with them is due to the inner depravity of the dissenter. It's the last resort of someone who has lost an argument.

Brabble Frabbitz said...

Sorry about the double posting.

steve said...

Brabble Frabbitz said...

"I'm not addressing whether or not the Isaiah text is eschatological. My point is that an OT person would be very unlikely to extract "a place of eternal torment for the dead" from any of these texts."

You keep asserting that tendentious claim when that's the very issue in dispute.

Brabble Frabbitz said...

Tendentious, huh? OK, I'll stop asserting it.

Just to sum things up from your perspective: The OT most certainly does warn sinners about a place of endless torments after death, however late in the history of redemption those warnings may appear. My denial of your premise can be attributed to my willful blindness to the obvious. On the other hand, your conclusion has nothing to do with your need to exonerate the God of Israel from the charge that he didn't give fair warning to sinners. And nothing to do with your theological need to show a unity of the canon.

Does that sum it up?

Rhology said...

You forgot the part where you have refused to address the "and even if we grant you that the OT doesn't teach it" that I've asked you now at least twice to.

Brabble Frabbitz said...

I don't get the question. What are you asking?

Rhology said...

Oy. Seriously.


Again: Why should it matter what "ppl for 1000s of yrs knew"? Millions of ppl TODAY have never heard of Jesus.
Don't you know we're Calvinists? and what that means? You won't like the explanation, but that's OK - I've not seen your credentials as Pope of Morality, endued with authority to condemn others, you judgmental hypocrite.

Brabble Frabbitz said...

The fact that millions of people today are ignorant of the hellish torments awaiting them after death is a separate problem. But in the OT, we have a race claiming special revelation - lots and lots of it. And yet, even with these extensive oracles in their possession containing many detailed warnings of earthly punishments, there are no unambiguous warnings of a place of endless suffering beyond the grave. Quite a glaring omission.

I know Steve Hays claims he's shown that such unambiguous warnings do exist. I also think that if his theology depended on it, he could summon the ingenuity to find OT references to just about anything. Theological necessity will always find a way to deliver the goods, no matter how great the odds.

Yes, I suppose as a Calvinist, you can fall back on "God does whatever he wants." And for that I have no answer.

David said...

Hypocrite. You use that word a lot. When you think that you've shown others to be hypocrites, you get very excited, and you seem to think that you've accomplished something. But what's the point? How does accusing others of hypocrisy excuse your own hypocrisy?

"Don't you know we're Calvinists? and what that means?"

Actually, I don't. Seriously. I really don't understand. Could you explain?

Don't you think it odd that a central tenet of Christianity, the threat of eternal damnation and torture, appears to play such a minor role in the OT? One can argue over the exact count, but there are far fewer mentions of the subject in the OT than in the NT. And the Isaiah and Daniel mentions, specifically, come very late in the game as far as ANE Judaism goes.

In the OT, reward and punishment from God is something that largely plays out here on Earth while one is living. The notion of an afterlife, and specifically, an afterlife with eternal torture appears to be almost an afterthought. The descriptions are vague, possibly metaphorical, and very infrequent. Now, in the NT, eternal damnation takes center stage as a weapon of terror to force compliance, but in ANE Judaism? Not so much.

Assuming that an ANE Jew would know about Hell, how would the same person avoid eternal torture? And how would anyone outside of the tribe have the slightest clue about both damnation and the means by which one would avoid damnation?

Just seems odd to me.

Rhology said...

How does accusing others of hypocrisy excuse your own hypocrisy?

It doesn't, and I never proposed it did. You simply have to show where I've been a hypocrite as I've shown how my atheist interlocutors are.



"Don't you know we're Calvinists? and what that means?"

BF seems to think that it's a problem for us that the OT doesn't teach about everlasting hellfire. I don't know what he thinks he's proving, but I'm just saying for the sake of argument that he's right. Now I ask: So what? God is a sovereign God and saves as He sees fit and whom He sees fit to save, by what means He sees fit to save them. If He chose to give limited info to OT people and save whatever number of ppl back then, then that's what He did. It's not our job or prerogative to judge Him as wrong or mean or whatever for doing that. Simply saying "God did Thing X" doesn't faze - why should it? BF needs to give an argument why God's at fault for not revealing anything about everlasting torment until the New Testament.


Don't you think it odd that a central tenet of Christianity, the threat of eternal damnation and torture, appears to play such a minor role in the OT?

It doesn't play a minor role. Just b/c it's not explicitly described doesn't mean it's a minor role. The atonement for sin and need to repent of sin is perhaps THE central point of the OT.


reward and punishment from God is something that largely plays out here on Earth while one is living.

Not with a proper understanding of holiness. Hebrews' description (in ch 10) of sacrifices repeated yearly, which cannot cleanse permanently, is a description of what they should have known, what they were in a position to know, and in fact what many of them DID know. Else, why expect a Messiah, a final sacrifice?
What I mean is: If you've offended a holy God, and you understand that one single stain on you is enough to separate you forever from a God Who is 100% holy (b/c one single stain means you'll never achieve 100% holiness) (and you sin a lot more than once), then there's no reason a reasonable person wouldn't think "Hmm, that says something about eternity, not just temporal reward and punishment."


eternal damnation takes center stage as a weapon of terror to force compliance

Compliance? What do you mean? (This is a test to see how well you understand the central message of Jesus.)


Assuming that an ANE Jew would know about Hell, how would the same person avoid eternal torture?

By repentance and faith in God and His atonement for one's sin. Just like anyone else.


Just seems odd to me.

Bummer. It goes w/o saying that your opinion of oddness has nothing to do with anyone else.

Brabble Frabbitz said...

"...the central message of Jesus."

That would be the long-anticipated messianic kingdom on earth, which is far different than the TULIP or individual souls getting into heaven after death. Scholars have actually made some advances in understanding since the Puritans, President Edwards and B.B. Warfield.

David said...

"It doesn't, and I never proposed it did. You simply have to show where I've been a hypocrite as I've shown how my atheist interlocutors are."

First, not all of your "interlocutors" are atheists. But more to the point...

You have suggested that your "interlocutors" are hypocrites because they don't attack or criticize their own "kind" when members of the their "kind" engage insult instead of argument. I believe that you've cited Hitchens as an example. But when those of your "kind" behave in the same manner right here on your own blog, you are silent.

You openly admit that you express "contempt", you express a desire to "humiliate", you compare Ken Pullian to "a man throwing a tantrum b/c his mommy said he couldn't have a popsicle". Look at your own behavior. Is this behavior somehow different from those who attack you? People insult you, you get angry and do the same in return. That's a normal human response, but is this consistent with your expressed belief that the Bible is the word of God?

"So what? God is a sovereign God and saves as He sees fit and whom He sees fit to save, by what means He sees fit to save them."

Right. A nice, all-purpose excuse to cover up any contradictions and inconsistencies. It's neat, but unconvincing. You can dismiss my observation of "oddity", but it doesn't solve the problem.

So, why waste your time as a missionary? God does what God wants to do. We're just watching the a movie that has already been written.


"The atonement for sin and need to repent of sin is perhaps THE central point of the OT."

Yes, I know this, but what is the reward of atonement and what is the punishment for failing to atone? In OT, the rewards are almost all described as earthly rewards. It's all about winning battles and having success or avoiding failure here on Earth. Again, the afterlife is almost an afterthought.

Also, you forgot to answer the question about those outside of the tribe.

Brabble Frabbitz said...

Yup. Two sets of standards, depending on who's doing the talking. Rhology and Co. can make the most snide swipes and personal attacks. But if you make one, you get a sanctimonious little lecture about how an insult is not an argument and how your resort to such is indicative of weak debating skills.

To cite the gospels, they have beams in their own eyes while they try to extract the speck in yours. And then Rho tosses around the "hypocrite" moniker - a near-laughable instance of projection.