Friday, June 04, 2021

The main lies Justin Gibony of TGC tells us about Racism and Critical Race Theory

Over at TGC (The Gospel Corporation), Justin Gibony did a video on the lies that serve American Christians. While he is right in pointing out that racism was a terrible blight in American Christianity, and he is right that we should not have a knee jerk reaction against any call for "racial justice," the problem is that his presentation itself has two major lies within it.

4 minutes into the video, Gibony states that it is false that "[racism] existed so long ago that it couldn't possibly still linger in our system and institutions" (04:30-7), and later he says that "Today many are using the threat of Marxism as pretext to avoid reckoning with the church's race problem. They are conflating biblical sound pleas for justice with clear distortion" (08:06-20). Taken on a superficial level, it is true that the effects of racism can still linger in America, and that it is also true that many could be using the threat of Marxism to avoid the issue of racism. However, that is not exactly what he had said. The claim is not that the effects of racism is present in America. The claim is that racism (not just its effects) is still present today in the American system and institutions. This is where Gibony embraced the falsehood of "systemic racism," where any actions that negatively affects someone of a minority race is taken as prima facie evidence of such "systemic racism." To be fair, Gibony lists down some racist events in America history, but note they last until the 1960s or at worst 70s. Guess what year is it today? 2021. If we take the year 1970, that is a time gap of 51 years, and 51 years is 2 generations. In other words, what Gibony is saying is that racism is still present BECAUSE racism was present TWO generations ago. Does that even sound rational to anyone not in the woke movement? So the sins of the father are to be visited on the grandson? Someone needs to read up Ezekiel 18 to see what God thinks about this kind of "justice"!

Next, the claim that many are using Marxism as pretext to avoid talking about race might be true. However, how does anyone know that? Absent reading the heart, that is impossible to know. What is possible to know is that Gibony sees that the church has a "race problem." Now, it is not to be denied that people in churches can and do struggle with racism. But to state that there is truly a "race problem" in the church implies that this "race problem" is pervasive throughout the churches, and especially "white churches." In other words, it is the issue of "systemic racism" again. So if there is this pervasive "race problem" in the church, where is the proof? Where is the smoking gun? Instead, what is happening is that reactions against calls for "racial reconciliation" by black racists like Jemar Tisby are rejected, and such rejections are taken as proof that the church has a "race problem"?! Why not think that the rejection of such calls is because we actually reject racists even when they have black skin? Now, I do not know whether such is the case, but Gibony has not given us any example of the church's "race problem" so I will just speculate as to what it is.

Speaking of the church's "race problem," if the fact that historically white churches are not diverse enough, then what are we to make of all ethnic churches? Is someone going to condemn black churces for not being diverse enough and include more whites and Asian and others? Who is going to condemn Korean churches for not being inclusive of non-Koreans, or Chinese churches of not being inclusive of non-Chinese? While I do agree that historically white churches should be welcoming to all ethnicities, the hypocrisy regarding TGC stands. Gibony states that we must reject lies, so perhaps he will give some of his air time to condemn all mono-ethnic churches including the black church for not being diverse enough?

In conclusion, I agree with Gibony that Christians can tell lies that serve their own interests. I happen to think however that Gibony needs to heed his own advice. Stop lying about systemic racism and be a truthful Christian. True racial reconciliation is done through actual reconciliation, not lies about racism and fellow Christians.

Thursday, April 29, 2021

Voddie Baucham on rhetoric and the eleventh commandment

Gone are the days of Luther and Erasmus slugging it out over the question of original sin. Today both men would be accused of being petty (for daring to split hairs over such theological minutia), mean-spirited (for daring to speak so forcefully in favor of their own position and against the other’s), and downright un-Christlike (for throwing around the word “heresy”). I have often said, “The Eleventh Commandment is, ‘Thou shalt be nice’ … and we don’t believe the other ten.” (Voddie T. Baucham Jr., Faultlines: The Social Justice Movement and Evangelicalism’s Looming Catastrophe , 132)

Saturday, March 13, 2021

The sexual revolution and divorce

We cannot blithely accept no-fault divorce (in which we are too often willing participants), for example, and then complain that Obergefell redefined marriage. (Carl R. Trueman, The Rise and Triumph of the Modern Self: Cultural Amnesia, Expressive Individualism, and the Road to Sexual Freedom, pp. 389-90)

Just as liberal theology was present prior to rank apostasy, so likewise the seeds of destruction of family and sexuality were planted prior to the embrace of "homosexual marraiges." In this one sentence, Trueman rightly pointed out one major way in which many professing Christians have already compromised on the topic of sexuality - that of no-fault divorce. I would like to venture further than Trueman here though. Christians who have compromised on the issue of divorce by allowing for divorce on reasons others than what God allows, and churches that allow for such divorces, are complicit in evil and plant the seeds of destruction in their lives, churches, and societies.

God is very clear on marriage as the union of one man and one woman for life. In unambiguous terms, Jesus in Matthew 19:1-12 states what marriage is and, alongside Romans 7:1-3, gives the only reasons for divorce. Divorce is only permitted upon adultery and desertion amounting to death. Abuse is not mentioned in the Bible, even though many husbands in biblical times have abused their wives. Thus, abuse can only be legitimate if is reaches the level of desertion, and that's all. All the other reasons normally given for divorce (non-reconciliable disagreement, unable to trust etc.) are NOT legitimate reasons for biblical divorce, ever.

In response to Jesus' teaching, we must remember the disciples' astonishment as they exclaimed, "If such is the case of a man with his wife, it is better not to marry" (v. 10). Now, if Jesus did in fact allow for divorce because of those other reasons, the disciples would not have been startled by Jesus' teaching, would they? But the disciples clearly understood how strict Jesus' teaching was on divorce, where basically only extreme sins against the marital bond would break it.

In this light, it is a sad reality that professing Evangelicals do not abide by Jesus' teachings on the matter. And even when the church formally teaches it, it is not practised and enforced. Whether a churche truly believes in biblical marriage and divorce is not seen in her teaching on the matter but on whether she actually acts on those teachings. If a professing Christian couple in the church divorces for unbiblical reasons, the church must put them under church discipline until they either repent, or they are excommunicated (c.f. 1 Cor. 5:1-5, 9-13). To not do so because of other reasons that the Scriptures do not sanction is to violate Scripture. And where appeal is made to their supposed contrition, that church has caved into the therapeutic mentality that saturates modern culture instead of following what Scripture commands. A truly contrite person will repent of his or her sins, and turn back to what God has commanded in Scripture. The idea that one can be "contrite" yet continue in disobedience to God is a contradiction in terms (c.f. Jas 2:14-26). And lastly, to resort to the "Gospel" as a way to excuse sin is basically licentiousness, and woe to those who misuse the grace of God to tolerate wickedness (Gal. 5:13-14; Mt. 6:23).

Judgment begins at the house of God (1 Pet. 4:17). As the sexual revolution destroys the world, let us move fast in the opposite direction. Christians are to not just reject sexual deviancy, but also to reject unbiblical notions of marriage. As the darkness grows, our lights need to shine brighter, and show people the way to the truth and the life.

Monday, March 01, 2021

On abuse and the responses to the Ravi Zacharias scandal

In light of the Ravi Zacharias scandal and the responses to that scandal from within Evangelicalism, I would like to offer this article as a way to think more about the issue of abuse and Evangelicalism's failure to deal with abuse. An excerpt:

The Ravi Zacharias scandal rocked Evangelicalism, since Zacharias was a prominent Evangelical apologist until his death in 2020. In response to the scandal, Evangelicals reacted with sorrow and grief over the wickedness of Zacharias’ sins. The more common refrain from many leaders however is some variant of “there but for the grace of God go I,” as seen in Michael Brown’s article, and reposted on Charisma News, a leading news source for Charismatics. While they sorrow over the victims of sins, the focus is on “not throwing stones” and empathizing with Ravi Zacharias to some extent. The most egregious piece here can be found in Singapore by Rev. Edmund Chan of CEFC (Covenant Evangelical Free Church), who ended his note with a confidence that Ravi Zacharias is indeed in heaven now, an article which epitomizes a major problem within Evangelicalism

[more]

Sunday, February 21, 2021

Letham and Theosis

7. It is union with Christ, with his person. This goes beyond the indwelling of the Spirit in the church and its members, … (Robert Letham, Systematic Theology, p. 787)

This goes beyond communion. It entails union. It is more than participation in the communicable attributes of God. It is not to be restricted to union with righteousness, goodness, holiness, or truth, neither is it union with the benefits of Crist, as if it were union with the doctrine of sanctification. It is union with Christ. Moreover, the humanity of Christ were not simply united to some of God’s attributes; if it were, we would be left with an extreme form of Nestorianism. (p. 788)

Athanasius’s main term for expressing this is μέτοχοι (partakers). (p. 771)

The Eastern Orthodox teaching of theosis teaches that the godly will become partakers of the divine energies in what the western churches call glorification. Utilizing the essence/ energies distinction, theosis, while speaking of partaking of the divine, is not like fusing into the divine like a drop of water returns to the sea. Rather, it deals only with the "energies" of God. In Eastern Orthodoxy, that is basically stating that Man will become as close to the divine as creaturely possible.

The problem with theosis is that it remains an ontological category. This is compounded by Robert Letham who seems to embrace some version of theosis, which he insists is more than what the Reformed teaches about union with Christ. This is disturbing especially when he quotes Athanasius in his use of μέτοχοι (metachoi), as opposed to 2 Peter 1:4 where the term is κοινωνοι (koinōnoi). As seen in 2 Peter 1:4 therefore which deals with the divine, the use of koinōnoi rather than metachoi seems to indicate that the partaking is more of a perfect communion between two people, rather than any form of ontological unity.

It is for such reasons that Letham's embrace of some type of theosis is to be rejected. While not the same as ontological fusion, the ontological focus of theosis should make it unpalatable to all who hold to the Creator-creature distinction.

Wednesday, February 17, 2021

On the Ravi Zacharias scandal

In light of the Ravi Zacharias scandal, I have written my thoughts on the issue here. An excerpt:

Ravi Zacharias was a prominent Evangelical apologist and founder of the ministry that bore his name (Ravi Zacharias International Ministries – RZIM). His global reach means that his ministry was known worldwide, regardless of the merits or demerits of Zacharias’ apologetics. Zacharias passed away last year in 2020, seemingly a godly man who has reached many people for Christ. However, shocking revelations of sexual abuse have surfaced, and an investigation that has just been completed by Miller — Martin was shocking in its validation of the credible nature of many of these accusations. RZIM has in turn wrote an open letter apologizing for the misconduct of its founder, promising restitution and reform. These revelations have troubled many Evangelicals. With Zacharias’ reach being global in nature, the revelations of his immorality have resonated around the world.

[more]

Monday, February 08, 2021

Letham and Romans 5:12-21

Moreoever, Hodge misread [sic] Romans 5. Paul is not making an exact parallel between Adam and Christ. There are two reasons for this. First, there is a clear antithesis between the two. "The free gift is not like the trepass" (v. 15); "the free gift is not like the result of that one man's sin" (v. 16). Second, the effect of what Christ has done far outweighs what Adam did. The argument is from the lesser to the greater. (Robert Letham, Systematic Theology, p. 392)

It is not a parallel; it is a wildly uneven contrast, the only common factors being the respective heads of the solidaric groups and the far-reaching outcomes of what they did. Shedd points to the different kinds of union that Hodge missed: Adam's sin was grounded on a natural union, in contrast to the union with Christ. All people were in Adam when he disobeyed; not all were in Christ when he obeyed. All are propagated from Adam; no one is propagated from Christ. Union in Adam is substantial and physical; in Christ, it is spiritual and mystical. In Adam, it is by creation; in Christ, by regeneration. (p. 393)

Romans 5:12-21 is an important text showing the contrast between the Covenant of Works and the Covenant of Grace. More specifically, it contrasts the heads of the two respective covenants, showing that Christ succeeded where Adam failed. It stands to reason therefore that there should be some discussion of the passage when one deals with the Covenant of Works. Unfortunately, Robert Letham as a monocovenantalist sees the passage as only pertinent to the sinfulness of man, and not the Covenant of Works.

In his interpretation of the text of Romans 5:112-21, Letham disagreed with the strong parallelism theologians like Charles Hodge make between Adam and Christ. According to Letham, there is no exact parallel because (1) "there is a clear antithesis between the two"; and (2) "what Christ has done outweighs what Adam did." Thus, Romans 5:12-21 shows a contrast, not a parallel, between Adam and Christ.

In response, it must be asked what the point of the parallel between Adam and Christ is in Covenant Theology. The parallel drawn between Adam and Christ, which we see in the text, is between Adam and Christ as federal heads. We see this representative nature in Romans 5:12 where "death came into the world through one man" and in verse 15 where "the grace of God and the free gift" came through the one man Jesus Christ. Thus, the representative natures of Adam and Christ are plainly established in the text itself.

How however do these representatives work? In the dispute between those who hold to mediate and immediate imputation of sin, the dispute is between those who believe that sin is imputed to man because of natural generation (mediate), or directly by God through covenant (immediate). Translated to the notion of representation, the realist interpretation holds that Adam is representative of humanity because we are all descendents of Adam. In other words, it is not primarily because of covenant that all of humanity is considered sinful. Adam is representative of humanity because he is literally our father (this view goes well with traducianism). Letham holds to some version of this view, basing representation upon "the natural, seminal relationship Adam sustained to the race" (p. 396).

It must be said in response that the seminal representation view has a problem with the person of Jesus Christ. Although he was born of the virgin Mary, Mary did contribute biologically to his body and thus His human nature. No matter how one cuts it, Christ is at least partially the biological descendent of Adam, so how can Christ be considered sinlesss according to this realist view? One can of course assert that it is through the paternal line that imputation of sin proceeds, but are not men and women equally descendents of their parents, since we are talking about biology? An assertion of patriachial descent of sin in a biological manner seems absolutely arbitrary, and misogynistic. Men and women are equally human, thus this view of the transmission of sin does not make sense.

With regards to Letham's two points, it should be pointed out that a "clear antithesis" does not disprove a strong parallel betweeen Adam and Christ. After all, if a contrast disproves parallelism, then how can Scripture be correct in saying of Jesus "Out of Egypt I called my son" (Mt. 2:15), citing Hosea 11:1, when Hosea 11:2 speaks of the disobedience of Israel after the Exodus while Jesus always obeyed? Can we point out the parallelism between Jesus' temptation in the wilderness with Israel's temptation in the same wilderness, noting that Israel failed in the wilderness while Jesus succeeded? Can Jesus be said to be the true Israel since he is so unlike Israel on the matter of obeying God?

It is of course true that there is a "how much more" element to Jesus' reward. However, that itself does not disprove a strong parallel, in the same way as the reward of the New Jerusalem with the Tree of Life (Rev. 22:2) does not disprove its parallelism with the Tree of Life in the Garden of Eden. After all, parallelism shows only how one correlates or corresponds in some manner to the other, without all elements being the same.

Letham's rejection of covenant parallelism here is therefore untenable. The parallels between the two representatives are of the parallels between the two covenants of which they are their heads. As opposed to (WGT) Shedd, it must be pointed out that Adam's sin is not grounded on a natural union, since Christ is sinless. All people were not in Adam when he disobeyed. But rather, all men are represented in Adam our federal head in Adam's disobedience. Thus, all believers are represented in Christ our federal head as Christ obeyed. Union in Adam is not substantial and physical, since the ground of union with Adam is being under his federal headship which is patrilinal and thus Jesus is not under Adam's headship. Union in Christ is likewise being under his federal headship, which is through adoption as sons of God.

Sunday, February 07, 2021

Letham, the Pactum Salutis, and ESS

Martin writes of "the will of the Father" and "the will of the Son." However, the Trinity is simple, with one indivisible will. (Robert Letham, Systematic Theology, p. 435)

There are two kinds of covenant in the Bible. The first kind is a one-sided imposition. Applied to the relations of the Father and the Son (leaving the Holy Spirit aside!), this would mean subordination. The other covenant type is a quid pro quo, a voluntary contract between two or more persons. This requires the parties to be autonomous agents. Applied to the Trinity, this type of covenant implies that each person has his own will, entailing something approaching Tritheism. Both of these elements are present in the pactum salutis. In short, in constructions like this its compatibility with classic Trinitarian theology is questionable. It veers towards subordinationism or tritheism. (pp. 435-6)

The focus of the pactum salutis on contractual agreement misses the heart of what God's covenant is about. (p. 437)

In his Systematic Theology, Robert Letham rejects the concept of the pactum salutis. Letham does not reject the idea that God planned salvation from eternity. But what he rejects is that there is any covenant involved betweeen the Father and the Son. According to Letham, holding to the covenant concept implies either subordination or tritheism - the former if one party unilaterally sets the covenant, and the latter if both parties are involved in the covenant. Key to this assertion is the idea that the parties to the covenant need to act to ratify the covenant, but can a God who is simple and with one will acts separably in the persons?

It is evident that this is the precise problem facing Reformed theologians who claim to both hold to the Pactum and yet reject ESS (Eternal submission of the Son). Letham sees clearly that the two are in conflict. If one holds to a simple God with a single will without differentiation, there is no way to hold to the Pactum. Yet the Pactum is clearly taught in Scripture in places such as Psalms 110. Using the theory that God has a single will without differentiation (a theological concept) to reject what is clearly taught in Scripture is allowing external philosophical concepts to influence how one interprets the text of Scripture, or in other words eisegesis. Letham is consistent in his rejection of the Pactum, albeit consistently wrong. But those who continue to hold to a single will without differentiation yet reject ESS are more biblical, yet inconsistent. For if there is a single will, how can the Father covenants with the Son? The Father cannot covenant with the Son since the one will cannot covenant with itself, for a covenant requires at least two wills in the two parties!

If we believe God is truly the God of Truth, then we must be consistent. That is why we must reject the philosophical notion of a single divine will without differentiation. Just as we cannot claim that God being one means a rejection of the doctrine of the Trinity, so likewise we cannot claim that God being one and simple means a rejection of ESS. It is up to the theologian to formulate a philosophy and theology that can incorporate all biblical truths, not use one to embrace some and reject others.

Friday, January 29, 2021

Contra Letham on the Covenant of Life

In his Systematic Theology, Robert Letham expresssed humanity in covenant as purely one of grace. Accordingly, Letham denies the Covenant of Works, expressing the fact that God deals with Man only in a gracious manner.

It is of course true that law and grace can be seen as congruous with each other, but only in two senses. One, the Old Testament (law) is congruous with the New Testament (Grace). Secondly, as I have written in my response to David Cheng on the issue (Daniel H Chew, "Response to 'Calvin on Law and Grace," in Daniel H Chew and Jonah Tang, eds, Faith Seeking Understanding - Vol. 2: The Reformation and John Calvin - Proceedings from the 2009 CREDO500 Conference), the law as what one practices is congruous with God's grace. However, there is a third sense in which law and grace (or rather Gospel) is not congruous but diametrically opposed to each other, and one that lies behind the bicovenantal structure of the Reformed tradition. I will call the first sense, the historical sense, Law1 and Grace1. The second sense of practice I will call Law2 and Grace2, and the third sense, the antithetical sense, Law3 and Gospel. Letham embraces the first two senses, but either does not understand or deny the third sense.

On page 356, Letham asserts, citing WCF 7.5, that "grace and law are not competing ways of salvation; they fulfill different functions: grace constitutes, law regulates." In response, it must be stated that in WCF 7.5, "law" and "gospel" was used in the historic sense as signifying the Old and New Testament economies. But what Letham has done is to conflate Law1 with Law3, and conflate Law2 with Law3. Since WCF 7.5 deals with the historical senses, they cannot be used for the other two senses of the terms. Letham's statement basically flirts with Federal Vision, since law even in regulating the Christian life does NOT function as a way of salvation. Compounding his error is the statement that "by extension, grace and law are also present in the covenant of life" (p. 356), which is a non sequitur.

Under the section of "theological considerations," Letham has other arguments for his monocovenantal position. In page 359, Letham argues, "If God related to Adam in creation exclusively by law, our view of the covenant of grace willl be dominantly legal, for grace will serve the purposes of law, and this will color the way we relate to God now." This however is only true in a monocovenantal framework, where what is true of the Covenant of Works is also true of the Covenant of Grace. In page 362, Letham states that "if God had related to man in creation exclusively by law, then his revelation of himself to Adam would not have been a true self-revelation at all, and creation would not express the character of God." This is errant because God did not just give the Covenant of Works to Adam but also the entire garden of Eden, his wife Eve, and communion with God Himself.

Perhaps the strangest argument is seen in page 361, where Letham wrote:

Advocates of the view that the Adamic covenant was purely legal argue that if grace was present, merit would necessarily have been denied, consequently threatening the second Adam's meritorious obedience. This concern stems from a polarized view of law and grace, and puts law prior to grace. It creates precsiely the problem John McLeod Campbell (1800-1872) faced. Campbell argued that Scottish Calvinism had made justice an essential attribute of God and love purely arbitrary. The consequence, he argued, was the priority of the legal over the filial, with devastating effects on piety and assurance. (p. 361)

In response, it must be stated that the argument is one big non sequitur. First, what does the issue of a legal Adamic covenant have to do with the attributes of God and whether justice and/or love is an essential attribute? Second, since Campbell was deemed a heretic by the Scottish church of his time, why should anyone care about Campbell's view on Scottish Calvinism? Third, how does a legal Adamic Covenant result in putting "law prior to grace"? What does this "law prior to grace" even mean?

The proponents for the Covenant of Works argue for the parallelism between Adam and Christ based upon biblical texts such as Rom. 5:12-21. When we argue for why the Covenant of Works must be a covenant "of works," we do see a denial of the works principle here as threatining the second Adam's meritorious obedience precisely because of these texts. Therefore, Letham's hand-waving as saying that such an argument "clouds the issue and makes meaningful discourse difficult" (p. 361) is special pleading.

In conclusion, Letham's arguments for a gracious Adamic Covenant fail. He conflates the various senses of law and grace as used in the Reformed confessions. He also fails to recognize and understand the monocovenantal understanding he is operating upon, and thus there is no critical engagement on this issue. Lastly, he fails to deal with certain key biblical texts concerning the Adamic Covenant. Letham's view on the Covenant of Life is therefore not only in error but also unsupported and poorly argued.

Monday, January 18, 2021

Letham, God, Essence and Energies

I am using the following terms thus: essence refers to who God is ..., and nature to what God is like. When we think of the divine attributes, we are working with this latter category. This very roughly corresponds to the Eastern distinction between essence and energies or powers. (Robert Letham, Systematic Theology, 157)

While not being an expert on how Eastern Orthodoxy exactly uses the term "energy" as opposed to "essence," I somehow doubt that Letham is correct in his understanding of what "energies" are. Do "energies" really correlate with the nature of God? Since in Eastern Orthodoxy, the focus is on theosis which is a union with the "energies" of God, a correlation of "energies" with "nature" seem to imply that Man actually become like God by nature, so we come to have a divine nature? What does that even mean?

Thursday, December 31, 2020

God, Justice and Mercy

What if God were just but not merciful? Would He still be good? No. [Scott David Allen, Why Social Justice is not Biblical Justice (Gradn Rapids, MI: Credo House Publishers, 2020), 28]

What shall we say then? wIs there injustice on God’s part? By no means! For he says to Moses, “I will have mercy on whom I have mercy, and I will have compassion on whom I have compassion.” So then it depends not on human will or exertion, but on God, who has mercy. (Rom. 9:14-6)

The relation between God, justice and mercy is a touchy topic, in that it affects each of us personally. Most people read Scripture in a way that favors their particular concepts of justice and mercy, in a way favorable to them. Yet, God is not mocked. We can ignore what He Himself has said, but His Word remains there, immutable and true.

Would God be just even if He was not merciful? For mercy to be mercy, it must be undeserved and not obligatory. An "obligatory mercy" implies that God owes it to the creation or creature to show mercy. Even if it is said that God owes himself, that makes "mercy" something that the creature can demand of God, just that the ground of demand is shifted to the being of God. But nobody can demand mercy of God, so therefore it can never be obligatory of God.

If mercy is not obligatory, then by definition it cannot be said that God must be merciful. Therefore, the goodness of God exist independently of whether God has mercy. That is the point of Romans 9:14-16. It is ultimately God's choice whom He will have mercy. God does not have to have mercy on anyone in order to be good, contrary to the assertion of Scott David Allen. In fact, God can choose to not have mercy on anyone and yet He would still be good and just. That is why sinners saved by grace owe gratitude to God, because God does not have to save us at all.

The grace of God is the basis of God's mercy. It is the grounding of Christian mercy, which likewise is not owed to anyone. That is why it is called "mercy" and not "entitlement." By definition, something that is of "mercy ministries" cannot be demanded. By definition, when something that cannot be demanded is withdrawn, that is not cruelty, because the recipient is not entitled to it. It does not matter how needy the person is; he still is not entitled to mercy.

That is precisely the problem here with many "mercy ministries" today, because they fail to understand what "mercy" is. Just because someone is in need does not imply that anyone, neither society nor any individual save for their family members, is entitled to any help whatsoever. The problem with many "mercy ministries" is that they should rename themselves to "entitlement ministries," because that is how they think as they go about working for "social justice." They are of course free to spend their money however they want, but they are not entitled to call themselves "mercy ministries" and so falsely advertize themselves.

Thursday, December 24, 2020

Review of The Son who Learned Obedience, by D. Glen Butner Jr.

I have completed my review of the book The Son who Learned Obedience: A Theological Case against the Eternal Submission of the Son by D. Glen Butner Jr., and it can be read here. While I disagree with him, I respect the fact that he actually does not trade in strawmen and more or less accurately represents the opposing side, unlike people like Carl Trueman, Rachel Miller, and Aimee Byrd, ranked in decreasing amount of truth-telling. While disaagreeing with Butner's central thesis, I can say that I am enriched by the book, and it would be good for both proponents and critics of ESS (Eternal Submission of the Son) to read the book and engage with it. An excerpt:

2016 is a year of infamy for the American Evangelical and Reformed churches, as a controversy erupted over the doctrine of the eternal submission of the Son (ESS). The ensuring firestorm produced more heat than light, with the veil being removed from the squabbling of the theologians, seen to be no different from the frequently demonized “online discernment ministries” when it comes to insults, rancor, and sowing discord among the brethren ...

As someone who has seen many misrepresentations of ESS over the years, it is refreshing to read Butner’s book, a book which actually listens to what ESS proponents are actually saying and attempts to engage them. The shift in focus to the issue of the will of God is a welcome advance in what could be a more constructive dialogue on the issue.

[more]

Wednesday, December 23, 2020

Glen Butner concerning EFS

I am currently working on a book review of Glen Butner's book on the topic of ESS. In the meantime, here is an excerpt from the book which is well apprreciated by me:

Opponents of EFS have often accused those who support eternal submission of Arianism, and for this reason EFS theologians are accused of offering an inadequate theology. The accusation of Arianism is inaccurate. EFS theologians are quite clear that they are speaking of the divine persons when they speak of eternal submission, so it simply is not the case that they necessarily abandon the homoousios when speaking of the Son’s submission to the Father. This objection would only work if EFS advocates used categories like ousia, nature, person, and hypostatis with an identical meaning to pro-Nicene thought. They do not. Therefore, EFS should be seen as one of a number of modern efforts to explain the Trinity in a different manner than the pro-Nicene tradition. In this manner, EFS is more akin to social trinitarianism, for example, than Arianism. [D. Glenn Butner Jr., The Son who Learned Obedience: A Theological Case against the Eternal Submission of the Son (Eugene, OR: Pickwick Publishing, 2018), 194]

Saturday, December 12, 2020

Some questions regarding Jason Lisle's ASC model of light-speed

In his book The Physics of Einstein, scientist Jason Lisle describes the theories and implications of Special and, to a lesser extent, General Relativity. Towards the end of his book, he wrote about the issue of measuring the one-way speed of light, stating correctly that all measurements of the speed of light so far has been the two-way speed of light. The model Lisle is promoting is the anisotropic synchrony convention (ASC) whereby the speed of light is different in one direction than it is in its return trip. Specifically, light could be infinite in speed in one direction, while having half c when it returns. Besides changing the reference plane, the choice between the conventional view and Lisle's ASC cannot be decided based upon current empirical evidence. So which one of them is correct?

While versions of ASC exists that might be plausible, I think that Lisle's version with an infinite one-way speed is problematic. Let us start with the first problem with such a view of light:

c = fλ

where c is speed of light, f is frequency, and λ is wavelength

Now, the different waves of the electromagnetic spectrum follow this equation, as they travel at the speed of light. The different types of waves are distinguished by their wavelengths, where radio waves have long wavelengths while X-rays have very short wavelengths. The question for an infinite speed of light is simple: If light has infinite speed, how can the different types of radiation function? For speed to be infinite implies an infinite frequency, but if both speed and frequency are infinite, then the wavelength does not make any sense, does it?

The second problem with Lisle's ASC comes from this:

E = hf

where E is energy, h is Planck's constant, and f is frequency

If light has infinite speed, then it must have infinite frequency. But if light has infinite frequency, then does it not have infinite energy? Given that in Lisle's model, the one-way speed of light from the stars to earth imply that everything we see in the night sky is actually happening now (since light speed is infinite one way), then shouldn't the light from these stars have infinite energy and destroy Earth by now? Now, Lisle could rescue his scenario by making Planck's constant variable (not a constant), or assert that the energy of a photon depends on the two-way speed despite its one-way speed, an assertion that makes no sense since the photon that reaches earth from the stars do not return to those stars but are absorbed (and maybe partially reflected) by the Earth.

Lastly, the question of direction is to be raised. What makes light move at innfinite speed in a certain direction? The reason why the speed of light is seen be to equal in both directons is that we have no reason to think otherise. Expansion of space does not help because that means that the one-way speed of light varies according to direction, whereas light coming to earth is from many different directions.

Due to these problems, I do not think Lisle's version of ASC is acceptable. Since the speed of light is fundamental to many different equations and the nature of reality, I think it takes more to postulate ASC than it is to hold to the conventional view. While ASC is not necesssarily wrong, the burden of proof is on those who hold to such theories to justify them as superior to the conventional view, not just as a possible alternate view.

Friday, October 09, 2020

Book Review: Cynical Theories, by Helen Pluckrose and James Lindsay

What is "critical theory(ies)"? The most recent book by Helen Pluckrose and James Lindsay, entitled Cynical Theories, is an attempt by the two academics to describe critical theories and their evolution from a secular liberal ("old left") perspective. I have read it and here is my review of the book. An excerpt:

Cynical Theories, a play on “critical theory,” is a book that addresses the issue of critical theories, from a critical, liberal perspective. The authors Helen Pluckrose and James Lindsay identify as liberals, and support what they believe to be LGBT equality (p. 19), but are against critical theories and thus the addition of “Q” to the gender alphabet group acronym. In their view, critical theories have hijacked the liberal project and are destructive of both it and society. Of concern to them is the fact that critical theories are provoking the rise of an equally identitarian right (p. 259), and the attack of the two extremes on society will eviscerate liberal society as it currently stands.

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Of their solution to Critical Theories with a return to secular liberalism, let me offer these two sentences from the review:

Secular liberalism therefore fails to be the proper solution to Critical Theory as it cannot justify itself against other systems. It cannot justify any of its preferences, and as such, is unable to stop the emergence and progression of Critical Theories, which all happened under the watch of the liberal intelligentsia.