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 By definition, when something that cannot be demanded is withdrawn, that is not cruelty, because the recipient is not entitled to it.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.


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.