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Saturday, December 17, 2011

I had long been sure

I had long been sure that 'Vox' Day' isn't really a Christian, no matter what he calls himself, and now he admits it (while claiming to actually be a fundamentalist Christian). Yet, somehow, while I'd noticed that his "little godism" of "Open Theology" accords neither with Christianity nor with reason, and that it accounts for many of his other failures of understanding, I hadn't known that he explicitly denies the Biblical doctrine -- and the very basis of Christianity -- that Jesus the Christ, a human man, is Lord, is God, [edit: and that Jesus, 'the Son of God', is distinct from 'the Father', both of whom are distinct from 'the Holy Spirit'.]

17 comments:

Drew said...

He says that he does not accept the doctrine of the Trinity. Technically, he could still believe that Jesus is human and divine while rejecting the Trinity -- e.g., through modalism, or (arguably) tritheism. But he doesn't really describe what he actually believes, much less why he believes it. His rebellious attitude just seems a bit juvenile.

Ilíon said...

"Technically, he could still believe that Jesus is human and divine while rejecting the Trinity -- e.g., through modalism, or (arguably) tritheism."

He *does* believe and assert that there are multiple gods [lower-case 'g' intentional] ... not in the sense that cultures have attributed divine qualities to things not divine and have called these things 'gods', but in the sense that there really are a multiplicity of divine beings.

Ilíon said...

"He says that he does not accept the doctrine of the Trinity."

He asserts that the doctrine is extra-Biblical and indeed contra-Biblical. This assertion is false on both counts. The Bible doesn't explicitly and in one place state something like: "there is one God, who is three Persons"; But, it does state that there is One God (only one God), and it does state that 'the Father' is God, and that 'the Son' is God, and that 'the Holy Spirit' is God; and it does state that 'the Father' and 'the Son' and 'the Holy Spirit' are distinct one from another.

MEANWHILE, he asserts, non-exhaustively, that God:
1) can make mistakes;
2) can be surprised, can be 'caught off-gaurd', by events in human history;
3) changes;
4) learns things he didn't previously know;
These, and other things he believes and asserts are indeed contra-Biblical.

Crude said...

I thought it's been pretty obvious to anyone who follows him that VD is absolutely not orthodox in any sense of the words. Vox has never really spelled out much of his theology in detail, but he was pretty explicit about his takes on omnipotence - that alone placed him outside of even open theist circles, as I understand them.

It's clear to me he's got a pretty unique view of Christianity. Would he be called Unitarian technically?

The Deuce said...

Yeah, I was rather taken aback by his denial of the Trinity as "contra-Biblical." That was surprising, even from him. I do agree that this probably puts him outside of "mere Christianity", not just Christian Orthodoxy.

He *does* believe and assert that there are multiple gods... but in the sense that there really are a multiplicity of divine beings.

As I understand it, he considers angels and demons to be small-g gods, since they are roughly on the level of knowledge and power generally attributed to pagan gods. Of course, we Christians don't call them gods, because we consider them to be fundamentally a different sort of thing than God, who is the ground of all being, and as mere creatures like us, they are much closer to us (infinitely closer, actually) in the grand scheme of things than they are to God.

But in VD's theology, God Himself is essentially a small-g god, who just happens to be a fair amount more powerful and knowledgeable than the other gods, and possibly created them (though, at this point, I wouldn't bet money on that last part). I suspect that his explanation of Jesus' divinity is his polytheism (ie, that the Father and Son are actually distinct gods), but I can't say for sure.

But, it does state that there is One God (only one God), and it does state that 'the Father' is God, and that 'the Son' is God, and that 'the Holy Spirit' is God; and it does state that 'the Father' and 'the Son' and 'the Holy Spirit' are distinct one from another.

Additionally, the Gospel Of John *does* explicitly spell out the "multiple persons in one God" doctrine for two members of the Trinity: "In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God..."

Ilíon said...

Crude: "I thought it's been pretty obvious to anyone who follows him that VD is absolutely not orthodox in any sense of the words."

Well, sure; but this is beyond being unorthodox -- this is actively and knowingly denying the fundamentals of Christianity while claiming still to be a Christian (and a fundamentalist Christian, at that)!


Crude: "... but he was pretty explicit about his takes on omnipotence - that alone placed him outside of even open theist circles, as I understand them."

I'll admit that I haven't paid all that much attention to "open theology", as the whole thing seems rather silly on any conception of a "real god" (I mean, on an understanding of God's qualities and attributes, irrespective of the Judeo-Christian revelation recorded in the Bible). So, if VD's version of "open theology" is greatly different from that of others, I hadn't noticed what is substantively different.

I mean, really! how can it be anything other than an absurdity, easily seens to be so, to posit that the creator of time-and-space -- who, definitionally, is "outside" of both time and space -- could ever possibly be "surprised" by any contingent event of time-and-space?

Crude: "It's clear to me he's got a pretty unique view of Christianity. Would he be called Unitarian technically?"

Whatever it's properly called, it isn't Christainity.

Ilíon said...

The Deuce: "As I understand it, he considers angels and demons to be small-g gods, since they are roughly on the level of knowledge and power generally attributed to pagan gods. Of course, we Christians don't call them gods, because we consider them to be fundamentally a different sort of thing than God, who is the ground of all being, and as mere creatures like us, they are much closer to us (infinitely closer, actually) in the grand scheme of things than they are to God."

In a context in which it is clearly understood that one is not drawing any sort of equivalency (or even similarity) of being between "the ground of all being" and created beings, then using the term small-g 'god' to refer to angels, or demons, or pagan gods, can be appropriate. But, in this age, when most people are both fundamentally ignorant of metaphysical matters and satisfied to remain that way -- while still wanting to "argue" metaphysics -- and where others actively promote ignorance and false knowledge concerning metaphysical matters, then in most cases it seems at best irresponsible to so use the term. When you *know* you're going to misunderstood, it's generally not a good idea to say the to-be-misunderstood thing.


The Deuce: "But in VD's theology, God Himself is essentially a small-g god, who just happens to be a fair amount more powerful and knowledgeable than the other gods, and possibly created them (though, at this point, I wouldn't bet money on that last part). I suspect that his explanation of Jesus' divinity is his polytheism (ie, that the Father and Son are actually distinct gods), but I can't say for sure."

As I understand it, the whole point of "open theology" is to assert that "God Himself is essentially a small-g god, who just happens to be a fair amount more powerful and knowledgeable than" us -- this is the point of my mockery of it (and past mockery of some of VD's theological statements) as advocating a "little god".

But, yes, that's how I understand VD's theology -- that Jehovah isn't God because he is "the ground of all being"; but because he happens to be the powerful entity that caused us to exist ... in just the relationship that the author of a novel stands to the characters of the novel.

The Deuce: "Additionally, the Gospel Of John *does* explicitly spell out the "multiple persons in one God" doctrine for two members of the Trinity: ..."

Of course; also, Christ is explicitly called "the only begotten of the Father", meaning that he is *not* created and is of the same nature as 'the Father' ... much as a human son, begotten of his father, is of the same nature as the father; but an image/idol/icon *made* by that same man/father does not share his nature.

Ilíon said...

I'm out of time now, but I mean to make a comment about VD's strange (and silly) assertion about being himself more in accord with the original formulation of the Nicene Creed, with the strong implication that the slightly newer version of it conflifts with the original wording.

Crude said...

So, if VD's version of "open theology" is greatly different from that of others, I hadn't noticed what is substantively different.

My amateur understanding of Open Theism is that they take the position they do largely because of what they consider to be the nature of time. God is still ultimate, Being itself, not a small-g god among gods.

Either way, I disagree sharply with Vox on this. I just am surprised it comes as a surprise - then again, I read Vox more than most.

Ilíon said...

"My amateur understanding of Open Theism is that they take the position they do largely because of what they consider to be the nature of time. God is still ultimate, Being itself, not a small-g god among gods."

I wasn't saying that the "open theologians" make of God "a small-g god among gods", but rather that they make him little. It seems they can't wrap their minds around how great he is, and so conclude that he must therefore be small.

"My amateur understanding of Open Theism is that they take the position they do largely because of what they consider to be the nature of time."

Which, in effect, makes "God" subservient to time, his creation; not because he freely chooses to honor/respect the choices of his creatures-in-time, but because of the nature of (capital-T) Time in relation to God himself.

Also, it seems to me that part of their motivation is to "protect" God's honor (*) from the silly atheistic charge that the nature of the world (as we observe it, at any rate) shows him to be a "moral monster" ... you know, the old "What kind of 'moral monster' would design a world in which 'X' happens?" So, to "get him off the hook", they plead the oldest excuse in the book: "But, Your Honor, I know nothing about that!"


(*) this seems similar to BenYachov's motivation for his silly "classical theistic" war against "theistic personalism".

Ilíon said...

Off-topic -- Isn't the world an odd place, Crude? As witness: here and here

Crude said...

I didn't even look at the response fully on Bede yet. When I see a reply spanning three comments, and the very first part of the reply is "Okay contrary to what I said Plantinga didn't SAY that but I bet he thinks it", my first thought is "It's Christmas time, screw this timewasting. I'll deal with it later."

As for Glenn's entry, that gives me a headache. As near as I can tell he's making a really common mistake: taking the Evolutionary Argument Against Naturalism as... I guess it's the Naturalism Argument Against Evolution. He seems to process the EAAN as 'evolution could never accomplish this'. Which is downright false.

Interesting, though, that you also ran with the point that plenty of things act without, apparently, any beliefs whatsoever. The point doesn't seem to have sunk in with Glenn. I think Plantinga himself is partly to blame - he could be clearer about this - but the fact that you can get quite a lot of good selectable behaviors without, apparently, a 'belief' anywhere in the vicinity should give some EAAN skeptics pause.

Crude said...

this seems similar to BenYachov's motivation for his silly "classical theistic" war against "theistic personalism".

I think Ben goes over the top with his war on theistic personalism, but I think he does so out of frustration more than anything else. Consider it the result of dealing with a lot of idiot Cultists of Gnu who love to argue against God as if God were 'big bearded man in the sky', and then associating that with theistic personalism. I don't think that's a fair comparison, but I also wonder if Ben thinks they're so similar that he categorizes them the same way.

As for the open theists, I don't endorse them. On the other hand, I'm pretty... what's the word? Not ecumenical, but more like I tend to accentuate the positive in these discussions. Give me a believing hindu, muslim, mormon, or even pagan any day of the week over a cultist of gnu. Give me an agnostic, a therapeutic deist, a possiblitarian. I can talk with them, I can find common ground. The cultists are fighting phantoms, many of them very personal ones. I'm not interested in talking with a guy who just needs therapy.

The Deuce said...

Crude:

Give me a believing hindu, muslim, mormon, or even pagan any day of the week over a cultist of gnu. Give me an agnostic, a therapeutic deist, a possiblitarian. I can talk with them, I can find common ground.

I tend to take the same view in general. The thing is that all of those views are actual positions in and of themselves. You can talk with a person who holds one of those positions in good faith, and find out where they overlap. Gnuism, on the other hand, is defined *purely* in terms of opposition to and angry denial of Christianity. Hence the gnu will readily shift their position as necessary, and deliberately misinterpret you, to avoid finding *any* common ground with the Christian whatsoever. Supposedly in the name of reason, they'll even go so far as to deny the reliability of reason, if that's what it takes to avoid admitting a single shared premise with Christians. Arguments with them tend to be pointless games of bad faith.

On the other hand, I find Christian heretics, who present themselves as genuine, orthodox Christians while in reality subtly tearing away at Christianity from the inside and corrupting those who don't know any better, to be at least as dangerous, and usually just as slippery, and in a way I consider them to be more "my problem" because they purport to speak for my faith. I suppose it doesn't bug me as much as usual in VD's case, partly because he's not slippery. He's just bluntly and unsubtly way out of line with nearly-universal Christian teaching, in a way that won't fool anyone who doesn't want to be fooled.

Crude said...

Deuce,

On the other hand, I find Christian heretics, who present themselves as genuine, orthodox Christians while in reality subtly tearing away at Christianity from the inside and corrupting those who don't know any better

Well, I don't have any patience for the Christians whose religious thought manifests almost entirely in terms of attacking (often relentlessly) other Christians. You see that a lot with some TEs. I also have zero patience for people who get too cute with their religious beliefs (I'm sorry, their 'spiritual' beliefs), usually wannabe pantheists or 'God is love' or 'I believe in myself' crap. So I'd agree with you about that.

I also agree Vox isn't cut from any of those cloths. At least he's interesting. I also wonder if he's eventually going to go further and connect his God beliefs more explicitly with his beliefs about technology. He's argued in the past that God's relation to the world is like a programmer's relation to his program. I'm kind of waiting for Vox to say that's not a mere analogy on his part.

Ilíon said...

Slightly off topic ... but, the irony, how it burns!

Mare Nostrum said...

Vox Day is using a phrase from apostle Paul, "through a glass darkly", to cover his heresy (because he is just a heretic) and other positions of his. The latter is of course intellectually dishonest. When one finds the truth, one should cling to it, not search excuses to depart from it.