Comment on Revisiting God, Sky & Land by Fritz Guy and Brian Bull by Sean Pitman.
Sean, you refuse to acknowledge the paradox. And then try to back me into a corner because I do acknowledge the paradox.
“A paradox is a statement or group of statements that lead to a contradiction or a situation which (if true) defies logic or reason, similar to circular reasoning.”
There is no such situation here. You’ve been arguing that God is both good and evil. That’s not true. Just because God allows us to rebel does not mean that God caused us to rebel or that He is in any other way responsible for our choice to rebel. Allowing for free will choices to display themselves in action is not a “paradox” or a logical contradiction.
Allowing something to happen is not the same thing as causing it, willing it, or desiring it to happen.
It is obvious to me, and some others as well, that “the will of God” must be viewed from various perspectives. Just an example of two perspectives…..God’s desired will is that “none should perish”, but if a person refuses to repent, then in this situation, it is God’s will that they must be destroyed.
This is not a paradox Bill. This is perfectly consistent with the concept of free will. God’s desire or will is that the free agent will choose to do good, will choose life. However, if the free agent chooses evil and death, and God honors that choice, how does it follow that God therefore willed the choice of the wicked to be wicked? He did not will the choice of the wicked to be wicked nor did He ever desire that they should choose death rather than life.
You are equating the fact that God allows the wicked to be wicked with the notion that God actually caused or is in some way responsible for their actions… that He actually is responsible for “hardening their hearts”.
Again, allowing actions, or willing a situation in which freedom to rebel is possible, is not the same thing as causing rebellion or willing rebellion to exist. And, this concept is not rationally inconsistent – i.e., it is not paradoxical.
You can not deny this obvious reality. As well as God’s permissive will where He allows some things He does not approve of, such as multiple wives in the OT, and He allowed the people to have a king which was against His desired will, but was a part of His permissive will.
I agree that God wills freedom to exist – that He wills the possibility of rebelling against His desire for us. However, I do not agree that this means that God is therefore responsible for causing or willing the actual choice of any free will agent to rebel against Him and experience the natural consequences that follow.
That concept is rationally inconsistent with the notion of a God who is actually good. You’re making God out to be truly evil when you say such things. And, claiming that its a “paradox” doesn’t change the fact that it would make God out to be truly evil…
Sin itself is a paradox in that there is no rational reason for its existence. The fact that sin is a paradox does not change the fact that sin is still evil. Painting God as evil, but saying, “Its Ok because its a paradox”, doesn’t change the fact that you’re painting God in a very evil light…
So it is God’s will that the wicked be lost if they refuse to repent. And He specifically acts to make sure His will comes to fruition as He cleases the earth by fire and forces the wicked to be burned up by the fire that comes down out of heaven.
Again, this is in line with the free will choice of the wicked. It’s an act of mercy on the part of God – in line with the desire of the wicked themselves. There is no paradox here or any other form of rational inconsistency with the concept of a good and righteous God.
The inconsistencies come when you start arguing that God actually willed the wicked to be wicked – that God was responsible for their rebellion. If true, this would make God out to be truly wicked Himself.
As you said before, “God’s responsibility for sin ceases where man’s responsibility begins.” This is the only way in which God can still be “good” while evil exists in His universe.
Our choices alters God’s will.
Our choices do not alter God’s will for us to have never made evil choices to begin with. Our choices against God will cause Him to act in ways He would rather not have ever been required to act. This is not the same thing, however, as God ever having been willing for anyone to choose the path of evil and self-destruction.
The real question in play here is if God is responsible for the choice to walk the path of evil – Does God cause us to rebel? Does God harden our hearts?
Read James 1:13 and tell me what you think about the real question in play here…
Sean Pitman Also Commented
Revisiting God, Sky & Land by Fritz Guy and Brian Bull
Consider the following comments from the E.G.. White Estate regarding the origin of disease, suffering and death:
Suffering, other than sickness due to neglect of physical laws, is also caused by Satan and not the deliberate intervention of God. On many occasions she reinforced the teaching of Jesus on this point…
Her teachings regarding the cause of death, as well as suffering, flowed from the big picture of the great controversy between God and Satan:
“It is true that all suffering results from the transgression of God’s law, but this truth had become perverted. Satan, the author of sin and all its results, had led men to look upon disease and death as proceeding from God—as punishment arbitrarily inflicted on account of sin… Sickness, suffering, and death are [the] work of an antagonistic power. Satan is the destroyer; God is the restorer.”
Ellen White, The Desire of Ages, p. 471. and The Ministry of Healing, p. 113
So, again, neither the Bible nor Mrs. White see diseases, like childhood leukemia, as being the result of a deliberate act or intervention of God…
Where talking about the ability to detect the need to invoke intelligent design to explain various phenomena that exist in nature – regardless of if the intelligent agent is God or your wife or some alien from Zorg.
The loaves of bread that Jesus made by Divine power were the obvious result of intelligent design. They looked like regular loaves of bread that your wife might make. No one could tell the difference by looking at them if they were placed side-by-side. Yet, one loaf would have been made by God and the other by your wife. The fact is that God can make what humans can make. What would be obvious, however, is that both loaves of bread required intelligence to produce. In other words, they weren’t the product of mindless process of nature or natural laws that had no access to deliberate intelligence.
In short, just because your wife’s intelligence is “natural” doesn’t mean that all natural processes have access to intelligence or that every natural phenomena requires intelligence to explain beyond the basic non-intelligent laws of nature.
So, you think that if God is directly responsible for the death of anyone that He is therefore the direct cause of all sickness, disease, death, and destruction? Every natural disaster is God’s doing? – a miracle of Divine design and creative power?
Do you not see the difference between the miracle of something like Lazarus being raised from the dead and a tornado wiping out an entire town the other day in the Midwest?
Recent Comments by Sean Pitman
“Essentially all the administrators, staff and faculty on our campus, including the pastors on our campus already know where I stand. I have never kept any secrets. I have to laugh when I see you say that I am upset because you ‘blew my cover.’ There was no cover to blow.” – Bryan Ness
You’re not the main problem here. I’d have no problem with you personally and what you personally believe at all except that you are a professor in an Adventist school – Pacific Union College.
It’s this school who presents itself as being in line with the primary goals and ideals of the Adventist Church, when it really isn’t. I have friends of mine who have gone to PUC and talked to the leadership about sending their children to PUC. They’ve specifically asked about the situation at La Sierra University and asked the PUC leadership and heads of departments what their position is on teaching the theory of evolution as “the truth” – and if the teachers at PUC support the SDA position on origins and other issues? They were told that PUC does not condone what happened at LSU and that the professors at PUC are fully in line with the SDA position on origins and all of the other fundamental positions of the church.
Of course, you know and I know that this just isn’t true. You, for one, publically speak and teach against the church’s position on origins as well as human sexuality. This reality is not being presented by the leadership of PUC to the parents of potential PUC students. This reality simply isn’t being advertised to the general church membership at all. What PUC should be advertizing to parents and the church membership at large is,
“Yes, we do maintain professors who teach our students that the church’s position on various fundamental doctrinal issues is in fact wrong and should be changed to reflect the more popular secular position on these topics.”
That’s what it should be telling everyone, but this just isn’t what is being done.
I am attacking no one… Since when is a difference of views an attack on the church?
Since it was placed as one of the church’s “fundamental beliefs” by the church (Link). When you publically publish an article stating that the Church’s position is clearly mistaken and should be changed, that’s an attack on the church’s position.
And of all the issues facing the church, same-sex marriage hardly rises to the level of a “primary goal and ideal.”
The SDA Church has chosen to describe the definition of marriage as being between one man and one woman as one of the “fundamental” messages to spread to the world – as one of the fundamental reasons for its very existence…
Now, you call what you’re doing, not an “attack”, but a “plea for compassion”. However, your plea for compassion is presented as a clear statement that the church’s position is absolutely mistaken – that the church’s position is not at all “compassionate” or even biblical. Now, you may be very honest and sincere in your views here, but that doesn’t mean that you’re not attacking the church’s position in a very real and fundamental way. The fact is that you are making a very clear attack on the church’s position while accepting money from the church as a representative who is supposed to be supporting the church as a paid employee.
Why do you want to cause such people so much pain?
That’s not my goal. However, if a person wants to know what the Bible has to say about what they are doing, I’m not going to pretend that the Bible has nothing to say when the Bible does in fact have something to say. If what the Bible says “causes pain” to a person living in what the Bible says is a “sinful” lifestyle, that’s between them and God. The very same thing is true of me and my own sinful tendencies. If what the Bible says about what I’m doing causes me pain, I can either respond to that by ignoring what the Bible has to say, or I can ask God for help in changing my ways.
Jesus himself said that He did not come to bring peace to those who are living in rebellion against God’s ideals for humanity, but a “sword” (Matthew 10:34). The denial of self and what we naturally want to do given our fallen condition, in order to follow God and what He calls us to do, is often quite painful indeed. That doesn’t mean it’s not the best path to follow. There simply can be no peace between God and those who wish to hang onto what God has said to give up. God does not condemn the sinner for being born broken, but He does warn those who refuse to accept His offer of help to escape their broken condition that, eventually, such refusals of help will not end well for those who are determined to follow their own way.
Yet, these professors get very upset when their actions are made public – when they can no longer hide what they are doing from the church at large. – Sean Pitman
Uh, I have never hidden my support and affirmation for LGBTQ+ individuals, and any parent who wanted to know my views on the subject could easily look up what I’ve written, or they could just plain ask me. I openly acknowledge where I stand on these issues on social media too. Essentially all the administrators, staff and faculty on our campus, including the pastors on our campus already know where I stand. I have never kept any secrets. I have to laugh when I see you say that I am upset because you “blew my cover.” There was no cover to blow.
You have not simply let people know what I advocate, you have attacked me personally and impugned my motives and personal spiritual path. You are causing pain not just to me, but to the very people I am trying to comfort and encourage. Your words are not just being seen by the legalistic and judgmental people like yourself, but by parents of LGBTQ+ children and those LGBTQ+ individuals themselves, many of whom are likely already heavily weighed down with self revulsion and depression. And you are doing this for who’s good?
And you wonder why I might be angry and upset? As hard as it is for me to do, I have daily decided to pray for you and those like you that God would soften your heart and show you the grave wounds you are inflicting on God’s beloved. I pray God will help you find compassion and clearer spiritual insight.
Do you really think it’s a “little thing” when our own professors are attacking the primary goals and ideals of the church from the inside? – Sean Pitman
I am attacking no one. You act as if you have not even read my article. I did suggest in there that I think it is time for the church to change and affirm same-sex marriage, but that is not an attack, that is a plea for compassion, a plea that the church return and study this topic again, and I laid out the reasons I think it is fully warranted that we do so. Since when is a difference of views an attack on the church? And of all the issues facing the church, same-sex marriage hardly rises to the level of a “primary goal and ideal.” You are inflating the importance of this topic. the only place where same-sex marriage really rises to a high level of importance is when you are an LGBTQ+ person contemplating marriage, or are the parent, relative or friend of an LGBTQ+ person. Why do you want to cause such people so much pain?
The purpose of the H.E. is not to wall people off by modifying curriculum of every subject to fit dogma. The dogma itself has to be enhanced with broader understanding of how to relate various perspectives to these fields of human enterprise.
Certainly, Adventist schools should by no means isolate students from popular ideas that are prevalent within secular culture. If anything, students educated in our schools should have a much better understanding of ideas like neoDarwinism or homosexuality than students educated in secular institutions. However, the education of students within Adventist schools shouldn’t stop here. Adventist education should also give students a reasonable explanation as to why the Adventist perspective on these ideas is actually supported by the Church – by professors who actually personally hold to the Church’s positions on these topics (like the topics of origins or homosexuality, etc).
Again, it is simply counterproductive to have a church school if professors in that school teach that the church’s position is not only wrong, but downright ludicrous, outdated, and completely opposed to the overwhelming weight of “scientific evidence”. Such teaching, by professors that are respected by the students, will strongly influence most students to be naturally opposed to the church’s position on these topics. Clearly then, this would not be in the church’s best interest. It would be far better, from the church’s perspective, not to form church schools at all than to have professors within their own schools attack the church organization from the inside.
But there is world of difference between presenting it as fact that the teacher believes, and a theory with problems. – @ajshep (Allen Shepherd)
I’m in total agreement here. Again, it is one thing to teach about a particular concept that opposes the teachings of the church. It is a far far different thing to then support this particular concept as “true” as compared to showing the students why you, as their teacher, don’t find it convincing.
That is why a teacher, employed by the church, is actually stealing from the church when they attack the church’s position on a given topic from within their own classroom or via a public forum. Such activity simply goes against what a teacher is being paid to do by his/her employer.
Your presumption and hubris are exactly what Jesus pointed out to those who brought the women caught in adultery. Have you learned nothing from the examples of what it means to be a Christian that you would indulge in such harshness and judgemental words and pronouncements.
Consider that while Jesus most certainly was very kind and gentle and forgiving to the woman caught in adultery (certainly one of the most beautiful stories in the Bible), that He did in fact tell her to “go and sin no more”.
I would say that the very same action and recommendation should be given to all who find themselves part of the LBGTQ+ community. God loves sinners and came to save all of us who find ourselves caught in the web of fallen and sinful lives. He doesn’t condemn us for being broken, but He does offer us a way out and tells us to “go and sin no more”.
In light of this, my problem with the efforts of Dr. Ness is that he is making the claim that there is no brokenness or moral problem with committed monogamous homosexual lifestyles – that the Bible says absolutely nothing in this regard and therefore there is nothing for God to forgive here. There is simply no need to say, “I love you, now go and sin no more”.
I’m also not quite sure why Dr. Ness draws the line with monogamy since he doesn’t accept the Biblical statements, often within the same passages as those discussing monogamy, that speak against homosexual activities? This seems inconsistent to me since it seems quite reasonable, given the arguments presented by Dr. Ness, that polygamy could also be argued as being even more consistent with God’s will and natural genetic mutations that God Himself designed. Upon what “scientific” or “religious” or “philosophical” basis does Dr. Ness draw the line at monogamy as being the clear Biblical standard where God draws the line? – when many have very strong and very “natural” polygamous tendencies?
Of course, I also have a problem with a paid representative of the Seventh-day Adventist Church, who is responsible for teaching our youth in support of the primary goals and ideals of the Church, publicly arguing that these goals and ideals are completely wrong – on the church’s dime. Such activity, even if one is totally convinced as to the error of one’s employer, is unethical since it is a form of stealing from one’s employer.
At the very least, parents who are paying a great deal of money to send their children to one of our church schools should be very well informed as to what they can expect their children to be taught at our schools and what positions the teachers at the school are publicly promoting. Providing this information to such parents is my primary purpose in responding to Dr. Ness’s publicly published article in public forum.
Do you not understand what it is like in academia? Differences of opinion among scholars is not only tolerated, it is valued. I have nothing more to say concerning your accusations. Our church has no “official” stand on this issue, if by that you mean I am disavowing my membership in the church by simply believing that gays should allow ro get married to one another. That is not even how our church operates. I can point to many other church employees who openly disagree about certain issues of belief, including this one, and congregations that are fully affirming of same-sex marriage. They are a part of the SDA church just as I am.
My concern still is more about the tone and stance of your attacks. You are attacking fellow SDAs, some of them being the most vulnerable members of our church, and you seem to have no sense of the damage you are potentially doing to these individuals. By attacking me in the fashion you are you are also attacking all those for whom I am standing up. You may want to take Jesus’ words to heart:
But whoso shall cause one of these little ones that believe on me to stumble, it is profitable for him that a great millstone should be hanged about his neck, and that he should be sunk in the depth of the sea. Matt. 18:6
I know very well what it’s like to be involved in leadership positions within the church and within academia. My own father is a retired pastor and teacher. It’s one thing to publicly present and even promote various opinions that do not directly undermine the church or school one is working for. However, it is another thing entirely to directly attack the fundamental positions of the church while being a paid representative of the church. Such activity is not at all encouraged and is, in fact, unethical – a form of theft from your employer. Sure, there are many pastors and teachers who think to do such things anyway. That doesn’t make such activities morally right. It’s still wrong to do what you are doing.