I wrote this back in March of 2009 and also posted it on Facebook. I was obviously making a little fun of certain posts or updates people like to put on social media :). It’s been shortened considerably, if you can believe that since it’s still a little long.
On all of these social networks, people love to be emotional. After all, you’re human! Everyone should know it! I am sure your heart beats with more ferocity than the most ferociously ferocious teenage girl. Your existential musings are a testament to your blazing life spirit, and we should totally feel you, man. Or girl.
However, sometimes these emo posts have bad form. They don’t allow us to completely sympathize with the great vexings of your life. They sometimes do not quite communicate, in the correct subtle way, your pent-up emotional feelings. They don’t give us that small window… nay, that small peephole, into your life, one that we can stick our eye eagerly into to get just a glimpse of your oh so important existence. Thus, I will propose some useful guidelines in constructing a good emo post. Not all posts have to have all these characteristics, but a post should incorporate several of these in order to rank as an elite emo post that will fascinate your readers and gain you sympathizers. Let’s begin.
I’ve pointed out before that girls will strangely tolerate songs that demean them as long as the lyrics are accompanied by a cool tune or beat. Jason Derulo’s “Marry Me” isn’t a demeaning song, but while it is catchy, the lyrics, if you listen to them carefully, are… curious. Girls swoon over the pleasant sounding tune, his high-pitched voice, his dance moves, and the apparently sweet lyrics (quite ironically opposed to his “Talk Dirty to Me,” but we will pass that by for now). However, when I first heard it, I could see right through everything to the real purpose of the song. I have illustrated it for everyone.
I’ve spent the last couple of posts addressing typical Calvinist interpretations of 1 John 2:2, particularly John Piper’s, so I might as well move on to address a different issue within the debate on the atonement: Can adherents of limited atonement justifiably hold that they can give genuine invitations to everyone for salvation?
Piper believes so. In fact, he doesn’t see the non-Calvinist/Arminian formulation of the atonement as contradictory to limited atonement; he simply believes that Calvinists think that the atonement did more. In his lecture, he wholeheartedly agrees with non-Calvinists that the Gospel makes salvation possible for all if only they believe. In this manner, he agrees that there is some universal benefit for the atonement. However, he thinks that Calvinists simply add on to this by stating that the atonement actually purchased faith for the elect. Thus, he thinks that Calvinists can give a bona fide invitation to everyone: Whoever believes will be saved.
Before I interact with his position, let me make this clear: I am not questioning Piper’s or any other Calvinist’s heart when it comes to evangelism. I have no doubt that Piper and others share the Gospel with a genuine spirit, and I thank God for men like him who do so. Even John MacArthur admitted to feeling tension between evangelism and limited atonement but simply holds that we are to share the Gospel freely because Scripture commands it, and I don’t doubt his heart to obey God either. This is not a question of the genuineness of their actions or character; it’s a question of consistency.
As I continued to think about 1 John 2:2 and my previous post, it occurred to me that a five-point Calvinist could try to avoid the problem of assuming a Jewish Christian audience for 1 John and argue that while John 11 and 1 John 2:2 are about different groups of people (Israel in the former and the recipient church in the latter), they nonetheless share the same pattern to teach that Jesus’ death is only for the elect. The pattern would look like this:
1. He won’t just die for the elect here (Israel).
2. He will also die to gather the elect scattered abroad (nations).
1. He didn’t just die for the elect here (the particular church).
2. He also died to gather the elect in the world (nations).
Still not looking at context
This attempt would be slightly better, but it still has several serious problems:
Recently, I listened to a 2008 lecture by John Piper on the nature of the atonement. As a five-point Calvinist, Piper adheres to limited atonement, the belief that Jesus died only for the elect. Out of all the five points, it is probably the most heavily disputed, so much so that even people who wish to be full five-pointers cannot bring themselves to accept it due to the extremely difficult texts they must face. In his hour-long lecture, Piper introduces the topic and also tries to give both logical and biblical justifications for the third letter of TULIP. While I disagree with many things he said during the lecture, I will focus here on his interpretation of 1 John 2:2, which reads:
He is the propitiation for our sins, and not for ours only but also for the sins of the whole world. (ESV)
This verse is considered one of the strongest verses, if not the strongest verse, against limited atonement, and it’s not hard to see why on face value. One of my professors in seminary said that he would like to be a five point Calvinist, but he simply could not get past this singular verse and accept limited atonement. Clearly, Calvinists have to give a persuasive interpretation of 1 John 2:2, among other things, if limited atonement can be considered good biblical doctrine.
Our church’s college group’s first ever spring retreat was held last weekend at Camp Copass in Denton/Lewisville, and it was both fun and tiring. We got back two days ago, and after spending most of yesterday catching up on sleep after a hectic week, I’ll jot down some reflections.
The college group started in the fall of 2010, and we had somewhere around 8-11 students coming regularly to our Wednesday college meetings. They were mostly all freshman, and I was brand new at the church too. Now, three and half years later, despite some leadership turnover, God has grown the college group such that it seemed like a good time to finally hold a college retreat. Some rough ideas started last summer and most of the planning started at the turn of the new year.
One of Plato’s most famous dialogues is between Socrates and a guy named Euthyphro, a supposed religious expert. Socrates questions Euthyphro on the definition of piety, and Euthyphro is forced to say that what is pious is what is pleasing to the gods while what is impious is what is displeasing to them. Socrates further critiques him by pointing out that the gods have enmity and conflicts with one another in the stories and that they seem to simply be going after their own preferences. If so, then clearly the gods are not aligned on what is pious or just, making their mere preferences merely arbitrary. Euthyphro gets caught up in this contradiction and has no answer.
This argument has long been adapted to critique the idea within Judeo-Christian theism that God is needed for objective morals to exist. The argument goes like this: Is something good because God commands it, or does he command it because it is good? If it is the former, then “the good” seems arbitrary; it is all about God’s preferences, and he could conceivably due crazy things like designate rape to be good. William of Ockham is famous for what is called “divine command theory,” the most simplistic of which allows for this possibility. If God wanted to say that theft or torturing babies is good, then he could do so and we have to obey. However, few Christians would be comfortable in saying that God could willy-nilly change the definition of what is good, as it does not seem to give any reliability to morality.