What We Should Learn from “12 Years a Slave”

I finally watched the movie "12 Years a Slave." It was very difficult to watch. Why? Not just the brutality portrayed but the fact that the men (and some women) who carried out the brutalities were human beings. (The movie is based on a book written by the protagonist, victim, and is generally considered true.) These things, like the holocaust and all that surrounded it, were done by people--not monsters from outer space or demons or viruses.Here is the question with which such movies … [Read more...]

Is the “Arminian God” Good?

Is the "Arminian God" Good?Several times I have argued here that a main reason high Calvinism (double predestinarianism) must be wrong is that if it were true God would not be good in any meaningful sense. If it were true, we would have no idea what we mean when we say "God is good" other than "God is God." The adjective "good" would add nothing explanatory to "God." That's because there is no analogy between "good" attributed to the God of double predestinarianism and "good" attributed by … [Read more...]

Off the Usual Topics: Gender Double Stereotypes

Off the Usual Topics: Gender Double StandardsWe hear and see a lot decrying cultural double standards that harm girls and women. Most recently I saw a campaign by several organizations to stop referring to girls and women as "bossy" when they are simply being assertive in the same way boys and men can be assertive. I agree that this is a double standard that pervades American culture and we need to speak out against it. Girls and women should not be degraded by epithets like "bossy" or … [Read more...]

“Belong, Believe, Behave?” Or “Believe, Behave, Belong?”

"Belong, Believe, Behave?" Or "Believe, Behave, Belong?"I'm not sure who first suggested the idea, but some years ago someone associated with the "emerging church" movement said that churches need to move from a policy of requiring right belief and right living for belonging to offering belonging followed by believing and behaving. For some postevangelical Christians this has become a hallmark of the difference between emerging (or emergent) churches and traditional evangelical … [Read more...]

The Difference between “Orthodoxy” and “Fundamentalism”

Something that dismays me is the common confusion between "Christian orthodoxy" and "fundamentalism." There are probably many reasons for it, but I think the common one (among Christians, anyway) is that people "burned" by fundamentalism run from orthodoxy due to an over reaction. Some people I know almost break out in hives when they hear "orthodoxy" used in a positive, prescriptive way--as in "There are certain beliefs that are normative for all Christians." They can only hear that as … [Read more...]

Follow Up to Why (High) Calvinism Is Impossible

Suppose someone said "God is sovereign but God's sovereignty is different from our ideas of sovereignty. God is sovereign but possesses only the power of persuasion." Someone else objects saying "But wait. There is no meaning of 'sovereignty' known to man that is compatible with having only the power of persuasion." The first person responds, "Oh, but you are assuming a human idea of sovereignty; God's sovereignty is higher and better than any human idea of sovereignty. We can't project our … [Read more...]

Why (High) Calvinism Is Impossible

Why (High) Calvinism Is ImpossibleBy "impossible" I don't mean, of course, "doesn't exist." I mean "exists but doesn't work." By "doesn't work" I mean "cannot be believed consistently and coherently."In brief, my argument is that belief in the Bible as God's Word and motivation to engage in its exegesis presupposes belief that God is trustworthy, that God cannot deceive. But this assumes that God has a stable, enduring, eternal character that is "good" in a way analogous to our highest … [Read more...]