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Arguments Against Universalism: A Personal Encounter

Back here I discussed two forms of argument against universalism, both of which I considered to be red herrings–that is, arguments that don’t actually address the issue at hand.  The first argument boiled down to saying, “Don’t worry about the fate of others–worry about yourself.  Your main goal is to keep yourself from going to hell–God will take care of everyone else.”  This altogether avoids the issue of whether eternal damnation is just, or congruent with God’s infinite goodness, so it’s certainly a red herring.  I had this further to say about it, though:

In the interest of full disclosure, I am personally very, very allergic to the “worry about yourself, never mind about others” argument–or “pseudo-argument”, I should say–for personal reasons. I’ll elaborate those in a post soon to follow, since it would take up too much of the current post if I related them here. Keep tuned for that story.

Well, I want to relate that story now.

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I Want Your Psycho, Your Vertigo Schtick–Lady Gaga, Open Theology, and My 1500th Post!

Lady+Gaga+In+Concert+AlLNGVy9HNll

Because I’ve been thinking it’s been way too long since we’ve had some Gaga here–and how better to celebrate my 1500th post?

I’m writing this as a standalone, though it has some relevance to some of my other posts on religion.  In speaking of God, one has to remember that one is always talking in terms of analogy.  However, given that we can’t help using language, we have to use analogy whether we like it or not.  The danger, of course, is too much anthropomorphism.  We have to steer between the Scylla of not being able to talk about God at all and the Charybdis of making Him appear too much like one of us.  There are different ways of plotting this course, and the one I want to talk about here is one that began a couple of decades or so ago:  open theism.

Before we can talk about open theism, we have to lay a bit of background.  The foundational religions of the West are the Abrahamic religions; and the foundational text for all of them, to one degree or another, is the Old Testament (known to Jews as the Tanakh, or often in English as the Hebrew Bible).  One of the most prominent aspects of the Old Testament is the way it portrays God.  The OT, by and large, is extremely anthropomorphic in its description of God.  He is described as having various bodily parts, and Moses is granted the favor of actually seeing Him from behind (Exodus 33:18-23).  He is depicted as having limited knowledge (Genesis 18:21) and as apparently forgetting things (Genesis 8:8, where He is implied to have suddenly remembered Noah after having forgotten about the Flood for the last forty days).  He is depicted as changing His mind back and forth (Exodus 32:8-14).  According to the Old Testament, God orders genocide with little compunction (Joshua, all throughout) and smites His own people, including innocents, for totally capricious reasons (2 Samuel 24 and 1 Chronicles 21).  Examples could be multiplied, but hopefully these are enough to get the picture of a God who is rather disturbing, who is–well, psycho.  This, for anyone past the barbarian tribesman phase, is a problem.

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