I was recently afraid to open a blogpost. This is not because I feared that the intellectual assault in that post would be so robust that I would be astounded and forced to concede my points, arguments, and position. It was because, based on all of the reviews that were given of it, it was emotionally loaded, filled with insults and blasphemy against God and refused to have a serious conversation about the issues. But who wrote this mean-spirited blogpost that I was afraid to even open? Was it an atheist? Was it someone who was openly hostile to the Christian faith? Was it a liberal who was raised to believe that Christians were hateful bigots merely for disagreeing? Who was it? Well, it was an evangelical Christian who was writing a response to the blogpost of another evangelical Christian. It was Evan Minton of the Cerebral Faith blog. He was actually responding to something that I wrote, namely, my article How Job Answers The Central Objection To Calvinism. In this article, I was surveying a number of points that Evan has made pertaining to the morality of Calvinism and whether God would be evil if Calvinism were true. Evan simply could not handle it, and I would say that he responded like a teenaged atheist, but I am afraid that would be an insult to teenaged atheists. This is CerebralFaith’s blindspot. It is the most obvious vulnerability on his page.
As I read through Evan’s post, I am becoming increasingly convinced that Evan did not actually read my blogpost. I think he skimmed it and read the words that were in bold print and then just started prattling off general thoughts about my subsection rather than specifically engaging with what I said. He read the titles of the subsections, but not the fine print and not the specific details. Yet he titled this article A Response To Jim Boucher – But it is not a response. He is just reasserting many of the things that he already said. There were several times in my original blogpost where I directly quoted Evan, rendered a response to what he said, and yet in his new post, he would reassert the same point without engaging my response! Why would he do that, unless he did not know that I wrote it? I say again, Evan did not read my critique of his arguments beyond a mere skim. So, Evan, if you actually read these words, I would like to urge you to actually read my last blogpost and then post a response to what I said. But the fact that Evan did not read my post led me think that I should not even construct a blogpost in response. But I thought it might be prudent and helpful to do so, that Evan and his readers may begin to understand.
Evan is not looking for answers to his questions. You will recall that in my original blogpost about this topic, I pointed out that Evan is concerned that the conversation is being shut down. We are forced to recede to merely plugging our ears and shouting our dogmatized slogans rather than intellectually engaging with the topics. But is that what we have done? Is that what I have done? It seems like anybody who browses my website would not come to that conclusion. However, while Evan may say that he is demanding answers, he desperately wants answers and Calvinists refuse to give them and just want him to blindly accept Calvinism, he does not really want any answers. Ironically, Evan plugs his ears in response to any answers. He dogmatically rejects any and all possible answers. That is why he did not seriously engage with anything that I said.
I raised several points in my article, such as the illustration of the man in the cage who turned out to be a prisoner, whether it is wrong to quote Romans 9:20, whether we have to stop asking questions, whether it is more than a debate about Calvinism, and also, whether God could condemn everyone in the world and still be just and still be loving. Consider that last point. Could God condemn everyone? In my last article, I pointed out that Evan’s answer was, “Yes,” and then I went on to point out a glaring inconsistency, that he essentially believed the same thing that Calvinists believe. How did Evan respond to this point? He responded by pointing out that he believes that God could condemn the world if he chose to do so. All that he had to say about this was to quote his earlier blogpost. The implication is obvious. If I had read more carefully, I would have seen that Evan actually agrees that God could condemn the world and still be just and loving. But since he did not read my blog post, Evan did not realize that I had already cited the very same quote in my response! He also made the point that if Paul Copan merely repeated, “Who are you, O man, who answers back to God?” rather than publishing his book Is God A Moral Monster? that this would be unsatisfying. But I had already quoted Evan as saying that, and I responded to it. I am still awaiting the first inkling of an indication that Evan Minton actually read my blogpost. This is CerebralFaith’s blindspot. He does not want any answers despite demanding them.
Nonsense or mystery? – Another inconsistency. You will recall that in my original blogpost, I suggested that if it is even possible that God has morally sufficient reason for unconditionally electing creatures to salvation, then it is our duty as creatures to just put our trust in him rather than to lean on our own misunderstanding. Evan rendered two responses to this. First, he writes, “Some things aren’t mysteries, some things are clear nonsense. This is one of them. A mystery would be how God can be 3 persons yet 1 God… God causing people to do evil and yet not being responsible for evil; That’s not a mystery. That’s nonsense. You might as well assert that a man who puts pants on is still naked.” But he goes on to say, “If one can show me that God can causally determine evil, punish the agents he determined to commit the evil for all eternity, and yet not be responsible for the evil which he caused, then I will gladly retract every statement I’ve ever made about determinism impugning God’s goodness.” If a Calvinist could possibly provide such a theodicy (I attempted in my previous blogpost – Evan ignored that too, more evidence that he did not read my post), then he would drop his argument. So in his first statement, he suggests that it is a logical contradiction to ask for an explanation, and then he goes on to ask for one anyway.
The difference between a logical contradiction and what Evan is pointing out here should be obvious. We do not know the intentions and motives of God. If we had insight into the divine mind, then we might be able to make that judgment. The only way that we could say, “God is being evil,” is if we knew his intentions. Perhaps there is a greater good that he is trying to achieve. Perhaps mankind is not the greater good. That is CerebralFaith’s blindspot. Evan’s assumption seems to be that mankind is the greatest good, the ultimate reality and the highest end worth pursuing. But if that assumption is incorrect, then the door has flung open to consider that it is possible for God to have morally sufficient reasons. Hence, it is a legitimate mystery.
Is God killing innocent people? Another inconsistency. You will recall that in my original blogpost, I pointed out that Evan is assuming that God owes us something. God owes us a free choice. He owes us a non-deterministic universe. Well, when I said that he does not trust God’s righteousness, Evan went on to apply a very telling illustration. He writes, “If someone came up to me and said my brother ((I don’t have a brother, but I’ll invent one for the sake of the argument)) murdered 100 innocent people, what would I conclude? That he’s evil? Well, that certainly would be the conclusion I would reach if he actually did such a thing. But I would object “No! He would never do such a thing! He’s a good person! He would never kill 100 innocent people!” Do I lack trust in my brother? No. While I strongly hold that if he did such a thing, he would be evil, I reject that statement as being true because I believe just as strongly in my brother’s goodness.” Granted that no illustration is or can be expected to be perfect, the applicable portion is the innocence of the people. Evan is assuming that the people are innocent or at least deserving of a fair chance at salvation, or that God owes them a non-deterministic universe.
But if God does not owe us a non-deterministic universe, Evan’s illustration breaks down at a foundation level. This is CerebralFaith’s blindspot. He is making underlying and subconscious assumptions about what God owes us and this bleeds through in every page that he writes about this topic.
Evan seems to feel vindicated by the fact that other Arminians render this argument. I do not care what other people believe. I would be very hesitant to feel supported or as though I were on solid ground just because several others believe the same thing. But this seems to be the case with Evan. He writes, “But the argument that I, Roger Olson, and virtually every other Arminian make against the god of Calvinism is that what Calvinism teaches about God logically entails conclusions (unless you’re super skilled at cognitive dissonance which many Calvinists are) which impugn His goodness.” Why does he point that out? Why does it matter what people believe? It matters because he seems to have drawn out some sort of emotional support from the fact that Arminians agree with him and scholarly Arminians have made this argument. Well, I was just as appalled that Roger Olson made this argument in his wretched book Against Calvinism as well. I can sympathize with what James White said in his review of that book, namely, “I feel pity for the poor trees who were used to publish Olson’s superficial comments.” It was appalling when Roger Olson said it, and it is still appalling when Evan says it.
However, since Evan published his last response, I have gotten several messages from people (some of them Arminians) who were stating that they were concerned about his negative behavior, and who can blame them? Arminians who have messaged me and who are offended at his behavior should send him a message and tell him that. Leave a comment on his blogpost. Tell him that it is not okay. The way that he treats this topic and the disrespect that he shows for people, the fact that he refuses to engage with or read any answers is very telling. This is CerebralFaith’s blindspot. He seems to just be so insecure about this topic. Perhaps that is because he knows that he did not read my critique, and that somewhere, deep down inside, he is terrified of the knowledge that what he is battling really is the truth.
If you would like to get in on the discussion about this, like my Facebook page!