Tag Archives: Original Sin

Do You Hate Your Enemies Enough To Love Them?

A VERY QUICK THOUGHT EXPERIMENT USING RIGHT WING CONTRARIANISM

In the latest edition of What Nonsense Is NeoCalvinism Preaching today, an employee for John Piper’s Desiring God, referring to Piper’s works, Do You Love Your Enemies Enough to Hate Them?| Desiring God, wants Christians to believe Jesus told us to hate our enemies. A hate, which in turn, will enable Christians to adopt a Crusader theocratic mentality to enact violence upon those we disagree. HATE IN THE NAME OF LOVE YALL. Enter Mr. Parnell:

“And when Jesus said “love,” we should be clear that he didn’t mean hollow good will, or some bland benevolence, or a flakey niceness that hopes our enemies stop being so cruel. Jesus never talks about love that way.”

Good will? Benevolence? Flakey niceness? “Surely now goodness and mercy will FOLLOW me all the days of my life” or “Be ye kind one to another, tenderhearted forgiving one another, even as God for Christ’s sake has forgiven you”; the concept of forgiveness means nothing but fire insurance? Oh Parnell probably just means any worldview that endorses nonviolence over bloodshed, and any man (literally) who isn’t a Just War Crusader is probably lacking in the area of masculinity. Did I get that right? Wanna know how many times Mr. Parnell quotes Jesus in his post? ABSOLUTELY ZERO! That’s right! Let’s talk about how Jesus discussed love without actually referring to the Gospels. Makes sense to me.

The one passage from John 5 that the author refers to is concerning the resurrection of the dead, and was completely irrelevant to the subject of Jesus “teaching hate.”

Parnell continues:

“Evil belittles God’s holiness and evidences that his name is not hallowed. We hate evil because it is wrong. But on the other hand, if this hatred is part of loving our enemies, we must hate the evil of our enemies because of what the evil means for them.”

If evil “belittles” God’s holiness, what an absolute puny god you must believe in.

HULK smash PUNY DETERMINIST GOD-LOKI!!

HULK smash PUNY DETERMINIST GOD-LOKI!!

Parnell’s theology (NeoCalvinism) is a god that remains distant, aloof, far above us, with a holiness that stresses separation rather than acts of goodness and redemption. What Piper and other NeoCalvinists are trying to do is to co-opt a set of harmful words usually geared toward the LGBTQIA community, and also apply them to radical Muslims. In both instances, they fail and will continue to fail. Love the sinner but hate the sinner is not only an unbiblical concept, but within the context of NeoCalvinist theology and its view of Total Depravity, it is incredibly harmful. Total Depravity is the extreme version of Augustine’s concept of Original Sin. If we are born inherently sinful, and that sinfulness is (as Original Sin argues) is passed down BIOLOGICALLY, then there is no separation between the sin and the sinner. Since then human fallenness is a natural phenomenon, a person who hates the sin also hates the sinner in Original Sin logic.

Now, not only does Jesus actually talk about what enemy-love looks like, the earliest followers of Christ like the apostle Paul did too. Let’s take a glance, shall we!

Jesus: “You have heard that it was said, ‘Love your neighbor[a] and hate your enemy.’ But I tell you, love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, 45 that you may be children of your Father in heaven. He causes his sun to rise on the evil and the good, and sends rain on the righteous and the unrighteous. If you love those who love you, what reward will you get? Are not even the tax collectors doing that? And if you greet only your own people, what are you doing more than others? Do not even pagans do that? Be perfect, therefore, as your heavenly Father is perfect” (Matthew 5:43-48 NIV)

I know Calvinists love Romans a lot, except for that 12th chapter thing. Ethics just gets in the way of everything. Here’s the apostle Paul, as recorded by his secretary, “Do not take revenge, my dear friends, but leave room for God’s wrath, for it is written: “It is mine to avenge; I will repay,”[a] says the Lord” (verse 19). Say it isn’t so! Pauline Christianity also means really trusting in YHWH’s justice rather than our own. Looks like Paul takes his cues from Judaism rather than pagan practices. The living, sacrificial love that Piper and NeoCalvinists completely get wrong is not about calling evil good, (warmongering, violence versus Muslims as a necessary evil to bring about “the Gory Glory of God,” but it is overcoming evil with good. It is engaging the defeated powers of death with the awesome, life-giving peacemaking of Christ Jesus. “If your enemy is hungry, feed him;
if he is thirsty, give him something to drink.
In doing this, you will heap burning coals on his head”

Well, now, that’s awkward. Seems like the apostle Paul is saying we are hoping for our enemies’ wellbeing.

Lastly, let us never forget that God does not die for His enemies (the ungodly as Romans 5:6 says) in Calvinism; since the Elect are predestined, they were chosen to be God’s friends since the beginning of time. So God in Christ cannot exhibit love for his enemies in the least, especially since the reprobate have not a chance in hell of getting into heaven (it’s been foreordained, folks!). Enemy-love as defined by Christ and the Good News gets redefined as worldly acts of needless retributive violence in PiperCalvinism.

God loves the righteous and the unrighteous. I mean, if Romans 3 is understood to be saying that we are all sinners, the logic of “love the sinner, hate the sin” turns on itself. I love myself but I also hate myself, and yet there is not one Bible passage that tells us that we lose the Image of God in us during or after “the Fall”? Even in the context of Matthew 5 (verse 22), Jesus condemns his followers if they rely on namecalling (distorting the Image of God in others)to the pit of Hell. Jesus seems pretty intent on us loving others, yes in a BENEVOLENT, HOPEFUL manner. It really shouldn’t come as a surprise that NeoCalvinists would prefer to affirm a god as hateful rather than any form of divine benevolence. They’ve held that error for well over five centuries, and they can keep it!

Kidding With Adam and Eve Part 3: The End? Or A New Start ReThinking Genesis 3?

kid adam eve

For the previous three posts in this series:

Kidding With Adam And Eve: A Brief Series: An Introduction

Kidding With Adam and Eve Part 1: Clement of Alexandria

Kidding with Adam and Eve Part 2: Irenaeus of Lyons

To conclude this miniseries, I would like to reflect on what Clement, Irenaeus, and other Church Fathers have taught us about the potential of Adam and Eve as immature children. To see the first human beings not as adult Frankenstein monstrosities born perfect, immortal (or mortal for that matter) but as innocent infants who lacked Wisdom is to challenge the notion of Original Sin. Original Sin has historically been taught, at first, as being passed down biologically. The readings of Genesis that argue in OS’s favor do much to not stress the priestly offices of Adam and Eve. Fortunately both narrative and historical readings of Genesis are bringing Christians back to realizing that these little tikes were not (theologically understood) first as primary in terms of numerology, but first, as in place and vocation. Adam and Eve are members of the first family of worshippers who folks like Irenaeus thought to be part of God’s plan to have the Logos dwell with us from the beginning. It is this teaching of Ancestoral Sin, that idea that Adam and Eve introduced the Curse of Death into this world that, IMO, leads to a better understanding of the whole of the biblical narrative, it remains consistent with a Christus Victor view of atonement as well as free will arguments in favor of the Triune God’s existence.

Some of the political implications for seeing the YHWH’s First Family in the Garden of Eden as small children is to make our children, the future of our societies, the centers of our political thought. Rather than being seen as afterthoughts to be taken care of by the educational system, children’s rights, whether we are talking about labor laws (Here Comes Honey Boo Boo), protections against domestic violence, even our foreign policy where we murder innocent Yemeni and Pakistani children with our inhumane droning policies would get called into question if children were to take center-stage.

This may be the end of this mini-series for now, as it relates to Clement and Irenaeus, but today I ran across a guy named Theophilus of Antioch, who has some of the similar teachings to Clement and Irenaeus on Adam and Eve. I plan on exploring his interpretation in the months ahead. For more, see Brian LePort: Theophilus of Antioch according to Rick Rogers

Are there any other Church Fathers PRIOR TO CONSTANTINE who had this view of Genesis? I would be very interested. Please let me know in the comments below or on twitter or facebook.

Thanks in advance.

Kidding With Adam And Eve Part 2: Irenaeus Of Lyons & ReThinking Genesis 3

For the first two posts on this series see:

Kidding With Adam and Eve: A Brief Series On Re-Thinking Genesis 3: Introduction

Kidding With Adam And Eve Part 1: Clement of Alexandria and ReThinking Genesis 3

In the first part of this mini-series, I wrote about Clement of Alexandria and his belief that Adam and Eve were children when they led to the beginning of humanity’s fall. Clement of Alexandria was addressing a literate, pluralistic society, 2nd century Alexandria, Egypt where the Greco-Roman pantheon held the most power at that time. Clement’s arguments about Eve & Adam are found in his major address to non-Christians, Exhortation to the Greeks.

For the story of Irenaeus, it is significantly different. As I will show, Irenaeus of Lyons was contending for the Christian faith with persons INSIDE the Christian community of his day. Valentinian churchianity was a new phenomenon in Irenaeus’ day. It was the latest craze, and very little is known about these persons except for what Christian apologists say about them (obviously, negative). In Valentinus’ system, human beings were classified into three groups of people: spiritual people, the ensouled normal people, and the earthly/material people who were destined for damnation forever. For more see, Valentinus, NT Canon.org. Now, these Valentinian Gnostics were preaching a religion that was offensive to Irenaeus for two major reasons (I am limiting it here to only TWO for my purposes in Kidding with Adam and Eve): first, the idea that there are THREE classes of people who are HAVE THREE PREDETERMINED destinies does not sit well with Irenaeus, especially since it did not speak of such things in the Old Testament (story of Israel). Secondly, this deterministic deity, is a real douchebag. What’s the point in worshiping a god who created you and me and everything that has matter as naturally evil?

Now, in order to use Scripturally-influenced logic to refute the Valentinians’ erroneous claims, Irenaeus had to argue what the beginning origin of humanity was all about. Irenaeus was a disciple of a Christian presbyter (church leader) who was martyred, his name was Polycarp of Smyrna. Before he was burned alive, Polycarp prayed to “the God of angels and powers, and of every creature,” a God who would bring about “the resurrection of eternal life, both of soul and body, through the incorruption [imparted] by the Holy Ghost.” The Martyrdom of Polycarp, NewAdvent.org Irenaeus somehow migrated to a place what we now call Southern France where he served as a pastor whose goal was it to care for souls, give instruction to laity, and fight heresy. Being a disciple of Polycarp,one of the themes in Irenaeus’ theology is the in-corruptibility of human body & soul at the Resurrection. This comes as part of God’s goodness, God sharing God’s eternality with human beings who freely choose to fellowship with God. “For there is no coercion with God, but a good will [towards us] is present with Him continually.” (Irenaeus, Against Heresies, Book 4, Chapter 37).

Irenaeus continues, “But if some had been made by nature bad, and others good, these latter would not be deserving of praise for being good, for such they were created; nor would the former be reprehensible, for thus they were made [originally]. But since men are all of the same nature, able both to hold to what is good; and on the other hand, also the power to cast it from them and not to do it.”(Ibid) Notice what Irenaeus is arguing against: the THREE CLASSES OF PEOPLE argument from the Valentinian Gnostics of his day. Irenaeus goes on to argue against the Valentinian arguments that God COULD HAVE made humanity perfect from the beginning. This is a rather silly argument, Irenaeus notes, because God as divine, is UNCREATED, human beings (like Adam and Eve) are created beings. God made Adam and Eve as infants so that could grow up in maturity to be like the Logos who became FLESH (AH Book 4, Chapter 38). It is only when Adam and Eve are eating real spiritual food (the Bread of Immortality/The perfect Bread of the Father) do they become perfect (share in God’s eternal existence).

As for human destinies, Irenaeus is a big-time advocate for free-will. He contends, “The light does NEVER ENSLAVE ANYONE by necessity, nor again, does God exercise compulsion upon anyone unwilling to accept the exercise of His skill.” (AH Book 4, Chapter 39) If human beings become heretics, apostates, or immoral it is only because we do so by our own fault, since we are, in Irenaeus’ eyes, free agents born with rationality, mental powers that allow us to reject or submit to God. Angels, fyi, also have free will in IoL’s theology, and their superiority over humanity is really just temporary.

As for Eve, Irenaeus does not really mention her by name (and the same with Adam). He sees Eve as having fallen into Heresy by listening to the serpent.

In part 3, the conclusion of this mini-series, I will sum up what Clement and Irenaeus’ “Adam and Eve as Kids” understanding of Genesis 2-3 means for us today, and why.