Paul's Passing Thoughts

Susan Dohse on Plato, Augustine, Calvin, and the Reformation

Posted in Uncategorized by pptmoderator on May 26, 2015

SusanTANC 2013 Conference on Gospel Discernment and Spiritual Tyranny

Transcript: Susan D. Dohse MEd.  

Plato

I’m Susan Dohse. I’m married to Paul Dohse for two years, and it has been an adventure. My role in this year’s conference has changed. This year I became Paul’s research assistant. The pay stinks, but the fringe benefits are really nice. Unlike last year when I spoke from personal experience, which though difficult and emotional at times, was easier than this year’s assignment. This year I was asked to step outside my preschool box and share what I’ve learned through not personal experience but personal study and research. And I am thankful for the World Wide Web, computers, and the Internet even though I fuss and say unkind things to the computer, I am thankful that the Lord created those on the eighth day. If I had to find answers to the questions that I had in the old-fashioned way, by using the card catalog and the Dewey Decimal system, I wouldn’t be here this morning. I would still be at the library roaming the stacks. My role in this year’s conference is to share my research. My goal though is to provoke you to think. What I want to share is only an introduction. It’s not even a scratch on the surface of what there is to know about these historical figures. It’s up to you though to continue the research project. So you do have an assignment. I want you to think of me as just a grain of sand, an irritant in the oyster that over time though yields a pearl.

Matthew 7:24-27, Jesus is speaking here. “Therefore, whosoever hears these sayings of mine and does them, I will liken him unto a wise man who built his house upon a rock. And when the rains descended and the floods came and the winds blew and beat upon that house, it fell not, for it was founded upon a rock. And everyone that hears these sayings of mine and does them not shall be likened then to a foolish man who built his house upon the sand, and the rains descended and the floods came and the winds blew and beat upon that house, and great was the fall of it.”

The foundation of thought that I want to illustrate is built upon a historical figure that I just knew initially in a Jeopardy quiz show fashion, you know. Student of Socrates, Greek philosopher, The Republic. Who is Plato? Well, if I were to ask you to tell me something that you know or you’ve been taught about this man, I’m certain I would get classic textbook answers. Greek philosopher, student of Socrates, established the first university called The Academy, wrote The Republic, I would give you credit for being correct. For over 2,500 years, Plato has been studied, admired, modified, personalized, and deified. He has been described as a great thinker, lover of wisdom, a crusader against error, and an enemy of falsehood. Well, after reading hundreds of pages about him, I cannot help but agree that he was a man of great intelligence. He was a mathematical genius, an advocate of education. In your list of trivia facts, would you also include pagan, polytheist, crusader against individuality, founder of communistic, socialistic, and Darwinian evolutionary thought, enemy of God, hero of the reformers?

Born in 427 BC, the son of noble and wealthy Athenian parents with the blood of ancient kings of Attica flowing through his veins. It was this status in life that gave him the way and the means to pursue his quests. Unlike others of his day, he didn’t have to earn a living and go to school at night or hold two jobs to pay for his education. He was of the ruling class of Athens, a privileged elite.

At the age of 20, Plato came to Socrates and asked to be his pupil. And Socrates saw before him a handsome youth, broad shoulders of an athlete, a noble brow of a philosopher, the limpid eyes of a poet. Those aren’t my descriptive terms. This is how Socrates described him. Socrates accepted him as a student, and this became the beginning of a tender and an intimate relationship that lasted until Socrates’ death. The respect and admiration of the student for his teacher was profound and lasting.

Well, after Socrates was executed, Plato and the other disciples of Socrates took to the world, and they traveled the ancient world. Now whether of fear that they would be arrested and also executed because of their association with Socrates or because they wanted to be foreign exchange students is not really well documented. Plato went to Cyrene where Theodorus instructed him in mathematics. He went to southern Italy where he studied the science of numbers under three of the most learned doctors of the Pythagorean mathematical system of his day, went to Egypt to receive instruction from those learned doctors and priests of that ancient land. Some records say he visited Persia, Babylonia, and even India. So he returns to Athens and establishes his Academy, the first university in Europe where he taught until the age of 81.

So up until his return to Athens, we can say letter P for professional student, P for pagan polytheist. Plato regarded the sun, moon, stars, and planets as the visible gods. These heavenly bodies do not come into beings and then pass away. Plato attributed divine souls to the sun, moon, stars, and planets because they followed that intelligible course through the sky. He also held [SOUNDS LIKE] the invisible gods, the gods of the civilized life where the king was Zeus. These gods care about humans. They’re aware of whether we are good or evil. Though invisible, they can reveal them themselves when they want to. They are not standards of justice, beauty, truth, and goodness, but they were living beings who have the perfect knowledge of those standards. Plato wrote, “I do believe that there are gods, and that in a far higher sense than that which any of my accusers believe in them.”

P for platonic wisdom which unites with methodology. P for philosopher ruler. Plato referred to himself as a philosopher ruler. He stressed the importance of living the life of a philosopher by worshipping ideas. The search of ideas, the appreciation of ideas, the participation of the ideas—that’s the life of a philosopher, and that’s what he taught, and that’s what he believed. So the life of Plato was a tireless quest for those ideas. His life is a sustained effort to live by those ideas and to teach others to do so.

P, political scientist, his political philosophy was explained in his writing The Republic. The ideal state, he says, should be divided into three classes of citizens, and each class has its own particular duty to be performed and a special virtue to be developed. The lower class, the laborers and the artisans, their immediate task, acquire skill. The second class, that’s the warriors, and they’re given the opportunity to develop courage and fortitude at their stage of evolution. And the ruling class, those are those men who have learned how to govern themselves and are therefore fit to govern others. I quote from Plato, “Unless philosophers become rulers or rulers become true and thorough students of philosophy, there will be no end to the troubles of the state and humanity.” When each state concentrates upon its own duty and virtue, there will be a well-balanced and harmonious state in which all of the citizens will work, but not for the interest of self but for the common good of the whole. The state will be in charge of production and that sphere of physical goods and life. (more…)

What is “The Church”?

Posted in Uncategorized by Paul M. Dohse Sr. on March 25, 2015

HF Potters House (2)

We hear it constantly, references to “the Church.” When discussing statistics, they are always in reference to “the church.” This is the term used constantly regardless of the fact that “church” can refer to Catholicism and an array of Protestant denominations including Charismatics and a myriad of Baptist stripes.

So, what is meant by “the church”? The concise definition is very obvious: the church is institutional theism. At least in Western culture, that is the starting point of accepted goodness that must prevail for the survival of humanity. In the same way that some parents send their children to Sunday school because “everybody needs some morals,” being a “Christian” is the minimal requirement for being unhazardous to humanity.

Hence, we have another definition: a “Christian” is someone who is identified with institutional theism, or “church.” And again, this is a societal Good Person Seal of Approval. For example, even President Obama claims to be a Christian and is a member of an institutional church. No Presidential candidate would have a prayer of being elected without some sort of religious affiliation whether Catholic or some breed of Protestantism. Quality of faith is far from being the issue, but the minimal requirement is a wink towards “the church.”

Being a Christian in America means you are a member of the institutional church which is anything theism. If you are a member of a theistic institution, you have good intentions and nobody has a right to judge your path to the pearly gates. Go to any Baptist church and start criticizing Catholics and you will quickly hear about all the Catholic friends they have who are saved and loved by God. Go to any of the National Day of Prayer gatherings and you will see that everything but the religious kitchen sink is there.

“The church” is the “Christian” club and means, not atheist, but rather any and all things theistic. Even the umber pragmatic Rush Limbaugh concurs. Just the other day on his radio program he stressed the importance of people, especially political candidates, having some “concept of God.” Bingo. A belief in some sort of deity: good; not believing in some sort of deity: bad. Limbaugh associated atheism (the Greek article “a” which means “anti” prefixed to “theism”) with being deceived about all sorts of things including global warming which he mentioned specifically.

Dr. Jay Adams, in a recent article, assumes that there are enough doctrinally sound churches in a given town or city to prevent “church tramping.” In my book, “church” and “tramp” are mutually inclusive.

When did “church” begin? The etymology of the word is German (kirche), and replaced the Greek word for “assembly” found in the Bible manuscripts (ecclesia). The word “synagogue” also means “assembly” or “congregation.”

The first complete English bible was the Tyndale bible in about 1524, and that bible did not use the word “church” anywhere in its pages, it used the word “congregation.” Sometime after this bible, they started replacing the word “congregation” with the word “church” (Christ’s Ekklesia and The Church Compared: Richard Anthony; http://www.ecclesia.org/truth/ekklesia.html).

However, the concept of church started much earlier in history after the deaths of the twelve apostles. The early church fathers, at least according to the English translations, used the word “church” often. Several of the early church fathers were disciples of the original twelve apostles and deemed authoritative theologians of that era.

Unfortunately, an apostolic succession controversy took place immediately following the passing of the twelve apostles. Regardless of the fact that the twelve established a home fellowship model led by elders and organized by deacons, and predicated by gifts rather than authority, many of the church fathers argued that chaos and doctrinal abyss would ensue unless the authority of the twelve was replaced with a like central authority.

However, even the apostles pointed to Christ as the only head and rarely implemented apostolic authority. The principle protocol was that of persuasion by apt teaching from the Word. Nevertheless, the church fathers insisted on a central hierarchy located in Rome that would rule over what they called “the church.” The first “ruling bishop” of Rome was Linus who was a disciple among the original twelve and an early church father, and for all practical purposes, the first pope. Later, Protestantism came out of the institutional church which originated in Rome.

The home fellowships established by the apostles contended against the institutional church for about 200 years until home fellowships finally began to give way in the 4th century. Unfortunately, the home fellowship model only continues in certain geographies because of necessity, usually economic or governments that prohibit organized religions that follow Christ.

Obviously, “the church” is little concerned with “sound doctrine” emphasized by the original twelve. The focus is some “concept of God” defined by “Christianity.” It is quite enough that the first Republican announcing his candidacy is calling himself a “Christian,” and has included video of his family praying before a meal in a TV ad—no one will ask for any particulars, the main concern is that he’s not an atheist and is a member of formal theism. The main concern is, does he have a “concept of God”?

This is where the home fellowship movement has opportunity. We are NOT “the church.” And by today’s definition, we are NOT “Christian.” And if nothing else, that will spark curiosity. But more than that, when the freedom to pursue sound doctrine is fully exploited, I wonder what the Spirit might do?

paul

Choice and Evangelism

Posted in Uncategorized by Paul M. Dohse Sr. on February 10, 2015

Freewill is a major metaphysical pillar of God’s creation. We like to talk about the “attributes of God,” but we must also be careful that God is not erroneously limited by our own definitions of Him.

Below, you will hear a very formidable thinker of our day decry God for creating the world a certain way; specifically, the allowing of suffering and evil. In other words, he believes God should have predetermined goodness in order to prove Himself good.

God indeed created the world according to good, but obviously, God did not predetermine choices and possibilities. Does that make freewill an evil concept? Clearly, John Calvin believed that God predetermined evil while God Himself is good, and the subject speaking in the following video states that God is evil because He didn’t predetermine an exclusion of evil. Hence, in both cases, freewill is deemed evil.

When mankind sinned, it was God’s choice to redeem mankind. Man could not choose to be reconciled to God, nor was it possible for man to devise a way of reconciliation. That could only be accomplished by God. Once man sinned, he was ashamed and hid from God. But God sought him out, and offered a solution for sin. I believe man is capable of making that choice.

What is evangelism? It is doing what God did in the garden on His behalf. Man is ashamed and hides from God, but as His ambassadors, it is our job to seek them out and present God’s plan of reconciliation. Man’s aloofness from God because of shame does not equal an inability to choose. Man’s resentment towards God because God is not predeterminist does not preclude an ability to be persuaded.

God does predetermine a happy ending through intervention, but that is not plenary determinism. God invites all men to choose God’s plan of intervention. Instead of all men being doomed, God intervened.

Wrestling with this issue creates lots of accusations. In the video, the subject accuses God of being completely selfish. And in fact, many of God’s most popular self-proclaimed pundits advocate the centrality of God’s self-love. An example of that would be Dr. John Piper and this fellow here. The same advocate the idea that God predetermined evil as a way to better highlight His holiness and bring more glory to Himself, and as another means of self-love through that enhanced glory.

God predetermined the means of salvation, and He seeks all men out and implores them to choose life. I believe every good thing and enjoyment comes from God and beckons man towards eternal life. The goodness of God and the love of God is not merely God sporting with mankind, it is meant to lead us to repentance and the full experience of God’s eternal goodness.

God clearly takes no pleasure in the death of man, so we should diligently seek out men on God’s behalf because God sent His only Son into the world…not to condemn the world, but that through His Son the world might be saved.

paul

Franklin Graham’s Cluelessness Concerning American Culture is Indicative of Most Evangelicals

Posted in Uncategorized by Paul M. Dohse Sr. on January 14, 2015

FRANKLIN GRAHAMSecular bad; Christian good. How did Christians come to think this way? And why are they willing to pay people like Franklin Graham so much money to protect us from the secular boogey man? Graham, like the vast majority of evangelicals, gets his information from other people. No people group can pass superstition and folklore from generation to generation like evangelicals and their information networks established by seminaries and local churches. Truly, the evangelical brain trust of our day must marvel that they can continue to get away with this in an information age. Nevertheless, the likes of evangelical superstar Dr. Albert Mohler often bemoan the evils of internet access. All of this is a long version of saying I think Protestants are brainwashed.

This post is about the Protestant mainstay of secular evil; Christian good. It was once again shoved in my face, as it is daily, and this time by an article in Decision magazine typed by Franklin Graham. The article was picked up and summarized by Michael Chapman @ cnsnews.com:

Reverend Franklin Graham, son of world renowned evangelical preacher Billy Graham, said that America is increasingly embracing a “culture of death” that echoes what has occurred in Europe, and which stems from a “sinful, godless worldview that rejects Christ.”

A further problem in America, he added, is that “Christianity is constantly under siege from the halls of government and education, which seek to suppress any public expressions of faith.”

“In places like Europe, where Christianity has been in decline as the deceptive forces of secularism and materialism have spread across the continent, it’s not surprising to find the practice of euthanasia so entrenched,” said Rev. Graham in a commentary for the January issue of Decision magazine. “Earlier this year, Belgium became the first country in the world to allow child euthanasia with no age limit.”

“I’m concerned that America is not far behind,” said Rev. Graham, who heads the Billy Graham Evangelical Association.  “The euthanasia movement—disguised now as ‘death with dignity’—is gaining ground in a number of states. And for every 1,000 live births in the United States, 219 pregnancies end with a murdered child, through abortion.”

“I don’t think there’s any doubt that this rise in the culture of death in our own country coincides with the embrace of an immoral, sinful, godless worldview that rejects Christ,” he said.  “Christianity is constantly under siege from the halls of government and education, which seek to suppress any public expressions of faith.”

Sigh. Ok, let’s take this a paragraph at a time. We like to say that America was founded by Christians who fled Europe for religious freedom, right? That’s the foundational premise of the American Protestant myth. First, the Pilgrims were Puritans who were Calvinists who were also Augustinians like Luther who were Platonists. So let’s clear that up to start with. Secondly, they didn’t come here for religious freedom—they came here to start their own socialist theocracy based on Plato’s The Republic. Thirdly, the foundation of their Protestant orthodoxy was/is death.

So, if Graham wants to say America was founded on European Christianity, he cannot also say that “America is increasingly embracing a ‘culture of death.’” Excuse me, the foundational document of the Protestant Reformation in regard to doctrine was the Heidelberg Disputation written by Martin Luther. It is a doctrine of death. In fact, Luther stated in the document that all true knowledge must be obtained by suffering. And being a Platonist, he rejected the idea that the common man can reason because of his addiction to the material realm. Luther merely made Christ Plato’s trinity; the true, good, and beautiful, and made the suffering of the cross the epistemology to obtain wisdom from the invisible realm. Luther’s “theologian of the cross” is Plato’s philosopher king.

Ok, so Graham also states that America is becoming more and more like Europe in this regard; well, ya think? That’s where it came from. Duh! And…

America is increasingly embracing a “culture of death” that echoes what has occurred in Europe, and which stems from a “sinful, godless worldview that rejects Christ.”

No, no, no. The Pilgrims, who were Puritans, who were Calvinists, and also Lutherans, who were Augustinians, who were followers of Plato, who was the father of Western socialism, made death the Christocentric epistemology of the church—it was by no means a rejection of Jesus, or at least their version of Him. This is why an instrument of death, the cross, is the regnant icon of the Protestant church.

The next statement by Graham lends opportunity for further clarification.

A further problem in America, he added, is that “Christianity is constantly under siege from the halls of government and education, which seek to suppress any public expressions of faith.”

“In places like Europe, where Christianity has been in decline as the deceptive forces of secularism and materialism have spread across the continent, it’s not surprising to find the practice of euthanasia so entrenched,”

“Christianity,” viz, Protestantism, has been in decline in Europe, um, where it started, and we are becoming like them, and guess what? The authentic version of Protestantism displayed in New Calvinism straight from the Heidelberg Disputation has been all but totally running the show in American evangelicalism for twenty years. Graham needs to look in the mirror if he wants to see the real problem.

And to further clarify, America was founded on political secularism—NOT European Protestantism. Excuse me, but the American colonies were originally socialist theocracies on steroids. Many of our founding fathers were motivated to act by the Puritan tyranny they experienced growing up. For the first time in human history, a government was formed that separated force from faith. The American Revolution was against European tyranny, but that same tyranny expressed itself in colonial Puritanism which was also tied to Europe politically in many cases. Ten years after the American Revolution, the Puritans tried to weasel their way back into control and James Madison had a total conniption fit over it. Keeping Platonist mystic despots out of government was what the American Revolution was all about. The Puritans were part of American history as enemies, not friends of freedom.

And this statement by Graham reveals the unfortunate and mostly unknown DNA in every Protestant:

…the deceptive forces of secularism and materialism have spread across the continent, it’s not surprising to find the practice of euthanasia so entrenched,”

The deceptive forces of secularism and materialism? Note how secularism is deemed as inherently evil. If it’s not Protestant, it’s evil. Be sure of this my friends: this idea is rooted in ancient dualism that deems the material (or “materialism”) as evil and invisible as good. It is also one of the philosophical pillars of Platonism and Gnosticism which wreaked havoc on the apostolic church.

Furthermore, we must remember that Protestantism was clearly founded on anti-reason which put the Puritans at odds with the founding fathers. Yes, many of the founding fathers were good Christians, but they were Christians who emerged from the Enlightenment Era. They were (not all) Biblicists who rejected dualism and also embraced empirical reason. This is where the discussion falls egregiously short when we discuss the Christianity that this country was founded on: Plato or Aristotle? If you think you can understand and partake in American cultural discussion without understanding these philosophies, you’re sadly mistaken. And please, don’t be like Graham—keep your mouth shut because you don’t know what you are talking about.

If you want to finally get a grip on these realities, I refer you to the university level lectures that John Immel has done in the 2012, 2013, and 2014 TANC conferences. This is world philosophy as it relates to contemporary American Christianity. We offer his lectures online for free, and trust me; this is an education that you would pay thousands of dollars for at a Christian college, and most of it would be orthodox myth to boot.

As Christians, we don’t think enough about what is exactly meant by “secularism,” and how it supposedly distorts our worldview. Also, when talking-orthodox-heads use the word “materialism” we should not assume they are talking entirely about hedonist money-lust; and moreover, when they subtly connect materialism to the “American dream” it should ignite fear of the socialist god within us. Dissing the American dream without qualification is presently in vogue among the New Calvinists who control at least 90% of American evangelicalism.

This is why atheism is on the rise bigtime in America.  American Christianity is now totally defined by the Puritan ethic which disavows the material world expressed in quality of life and the average person’s ability to reason. Without the iron fist of a sanctified central government, chaos will supposedly ensue.  For the Puritans who really understood what they were about, musings of self-governance was the epitome of folly and arrogance. The New Calvinist movement has successfully defined Christianity in this way resulting in a cultural pushback that rejects a reason-hating god who demands that all knowledge come through suffering. As a Christian thinker, I often seek dialogue with atheists, but find that I am rejected out of hand in every case. Why? Because “Christian” has become synonymous with spiritual oligarchy, and perhaps rightfully so, for what well-known Christian fails to speak well of the Puritans?

In addition to what is cited in this post from Graham’s editorial, one may ask Graham: why wouldn’t secular governments push back against the Neo-Puritan movement expressed in New Calvinism? Their dominion theology is well documented. By their own pronouncement they seek to dominate the world!!! Constantly we hear Mike Huckabee et al espousing the need for “Christian government” coupled with events like New Calvinist John Piper in Dubai  proclaiming that Christianity is going to bring down the Burj Khalifa tower!

Really, am I here right now? Secular government is pushing back against a semblance of theocratic Puritan resurgence? Ya think?

Lastly, what about the fruits of death culture that Graham is speaking of? Throughout history, the bulk of death culture has always come from collectivism. What’s that? It starts with the idea that man cannot reason. And by the way, dear Christian, you can wuv somebody with your entire faith-filled intellectual thimble until the cows come home, but if they catch wind that you think they are unable to interpret reality—see ya—you’re history.

Since man is unable to reason and needs those with the gnosis to rule over the masses for the collective good, man is not only perceived as property of the state whether the state is religious or otherwise, man’s worth is defined by his ability to contribute to the greater societal good. In other words, to sing the praises of Puritanism while fustigating the evils of death culture is an oxymoron. Either way, whether secular or Protestant, both feed the death culture. Protestants don’t like voluntary exit strategies because who’s to say you won’t become one of them in the future; atheists simply have no hope because the only Christianity they see is jihad with some sugar on top.

Graham et al remind me of race-baiters like Al Sharpton. With Al, the boogey man is the white man; with Graham the boogey man is the secular materialist out to destroy his definition of Christianity. However, in regard to Graham, I think most of his mentality in this regard comes from ignorance, for many others like John Piper and Al Mohler—not so much.

In the same way liberals think we should ask, “Why do terrorists hate us,” Christians should ask why we are deemed a threat to secular society. We don’t need to ask the terrorists that; we know they believe that Sharia law is the key to world peace. But an answer to our question to those evil material secularists might be revealed in a snippet of Graham’s editorial not cited above:

Life is short. Eternity is long. Do not tarry for you do not know when you will die. Choose sin and you will face eternal damnation, said Rev. Graham. But choose God and you will gain eternal life.

This also applies to our institutions, our laws, our society.  “Wherever Christianity flourishes, there is a vibrant culture of life, not death,” said the reverend. “When the precepts of the Christian faith are faithfully taught and followed, there is an abundance of selfless, sacrificial living and giving.”

Do you hear the intellectuals running away as fast as they possibly can? You should. Protestant theocracies have a track record of a “vibrant culture of life”? Oh my, are you kidding me?

Let me explain something. Not long after the Renaissance, Platonism split into a secular expression that later became Marxism. Until then, collectivism was primarily a religious animal. From there, remnants of collectivism have always defined political underpinnings one way or the other. In contemporary America, we bemoan the nanny state mentality found primarily in the Democratic Party. Self-governance? They don’t even think we can choose the right way to wipe ourselves or buy lightbulbs. Often we ask when they make absurd statements, “Do they think we are stupid?” Well, not exactly, it’s just that they don’t think you can properly interpret realty.

Likewise, does Graham think we are stupid? And does he really think we can reach the lost with statements like this that are first degree felonies against reality in broad daylight?

Ya, follow us, believe in Jesus, our idea of a “vibrant culture of life” is Calvin’s Geneva and the Salem Witch Trials. John Piper even went to Geneva to proclaim the next phase of his ministry. During the promotion, he proclaimed the coming of Calvin’s Geneva as “Post Tenebras Lux”—“After Darkness… Light.” Geneva was an early version of communism that just didn’t work, and it didn’t work for colonial America ether.

Yes, trust Franklin, these contradictions only seem outrageous because you don’t comprehend reality—let Graham et al do the thinking for you. Stop supporting abortion and the like—burning witches is much better. “Besides, even though we think the Puritans were absolutely wonderful, if you put us in power, we won’t be like them in every regard. Really, we promise.”

Any takers?

paul

Are Atheists Calvinist at Heart?

Posted in Uncategorized by Paul M. Dohse Sr. on January 12, 2015

PPT HandleDo I have anything in common with atheists? Sure, they believe in reason. This means I will often have more in common with them than Protestants. The anti-reason sentiment of the Reformers is well documented and therefore won’t be cudgeled here, but the Protestant mentality of “faith over reason” has a long and horrific history. For example, Rudolf Hess once lectured the German people to “not seek Adolf Hitler with your mind. You will find him through the strength of your hearts!” The rest was history as the German people blindly followed Hitler into the abyss.

Biblical faith is always based on reason, and calls on the individual to “come and let us reason together saith the Lord.” Every bogus religion that has ever hijacked Christianity is based on elitist gnosis that demands a following by faith alone in what they say is truth. We call that “orthodoxy.”

This reality always makes me curious about how atheists perceive religion; hence, a referral on Twitter regarding the book Why I Am Not a Christian: Four Conclusive Reasons to Reject the Faith by Dr. Richard Carrier caught my attention. Prior to downloading the book to my Kindle, I took note of Amazon’s summary of the theses:

Dr. Richard Carrier, world renowned philosopher and historian, explains the four reasons he does not accept the Christian religion, describing four facts of the world that, had they been different, he would believe. He is brief, clear, and down to earth, covering the whole topic in under ninety pages of easy-to-read explanation. Those four reasons are God’s silence, God’s inaction, the lack of evidence, and the way the universe looks exactly like a godless universe would, and not at all like a Christian universe would, even down to its very structure. Dr. Carrier addresses all the usual replies to these claims, in ways you might not have heard before, relying on his wide experience in debating and studying these issues all over the world for more than fifteen years. A perfect book to introduce yourself, or your friends, to why fewer educated people are embracing Christianity than ever before. Ideal for handing out to door-to-door missionaries.

Wait a minute. At least initially, it would seem that Carrier has a problem with the idea that God did not predetermine reality in a certain way. God does not speak to every thought we have lest we would have to figure something out on our own, doesn’t intervene in every bad situation, and allows ungodliness; i.e., allows man to act on his own desires whether good or evil. Therefore, because God does not predetermine goodness, there must not be a God.

Does this not assume that a predeterminist God is the definition of God?

I have written before that this is the unfortunate inclination of mankind; a bent towards determinism. If God creates man with freewill, he has every right to expect man to choose what’s right. If man has no choice, that’s determinism by default.

I will read the book, but these are my initial thoughts based on the summary. It would seem that some kind of determinism by God is expected as a valid definition of God. Either God ordered what is here because determinism defines God, or there isn’t a God because he wouldn’t have predetermined evil.

Whether atheist or Calvinist, it would seem that determinism is the starting point for interpreting reality.

paul

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