To “show how charitable and fair minded” he is, Jerry Walls linked my post critiquing his view of love for readers of his Facebook wall to see.
I’m cool with people promoting my work, but to be honest the responses were disappointing, falling into two general categories:
- Condemning my tone—to wit, I am “belligerent”, “obnoxious”, “dogmatic”, “trying to injure Dr Walls with my words” and so on. What’s striking about these responses is how ironic they are, since the commenters are exhibiting the very behavior they decry. The comments about how “off-putting” my dogmatism is were especially strange given that Christianity itself is defined by its dogma. Should I not vigorously defend what I believe the Bible teaches? Odd.
- Mocking my repudiation of love being essentially about flourishing—viz, “I shudder to suppose this could be false,” and, “Doh!!! No it’s false we all prefer a Sadistic God.” These comments were notable for (i) assuming that if love is not essentially desiring and promoting true flourishing, then the only alternatives are sadistic or shudder-worthy; and (ii) the fact that commenters seemed to think that hopping onto a high horse was sufficient to eliminate the reasons I gave that love cannot be essentially about flourishing.
This disappointing performance raises a question in my mind…
Why do Walls’ readers act like village atheists?
The general trend of these responses is strikingly similar to what you’ll see in the comboxes of blogs like Debunking Christianity. Is Walls deliberately cultivating this sort of groupie mentality? Mimicking boorish internet atheism? Wouldn’t a Christian philosopher want to discourage crowing and back-slapping in favor of disciplined thinking and deliberation? Indeed, shouldn’t a good Christian philosopher and teacher naturally attract people who appreciate and practice good thinking, rather than herd partisanship? It’s not like Walls has no influence over his own fans.
The fact is, mature Christians don’t act like cheerleaders—and mature Christian teachers don’t want cheerleaders.
Can’t Calvinists get any love?
I raise all these issues because there’s a particular point here which bears thinking about—and that is the Arminian’s putative commitment to universal love. Arminians say we should love everyone. That’s what God does, after all. But when we get practical, it quickly becomes apparent that a notable proportion of them (what I have called the groupies) can’t stand Calvinists. When we get practical, the only people they love seem to be the people they also like. When we get practical, and they actually have to put their theology into practice by modeling an interaction with someone who causes them umbrage…they don’t treat him very well.*
How they respond to posts like mine is an interesting litmus test for how loving they really are.
Now, you might say I’m being unfair. Just because Arminians see God as loving everyone equally doesn’t mean Arminians will be better at doing that than anyone else. But I’m really just holding Arminians to their own standard. For example, take this comment from Walls’ Facebook post:
If you believe a belligerent theology about a belligerent God, what you get is a belligerent blogger.
Arminian groupies draw a correlation between believing in a “belligerent” God (that’s the “God of Calvinism”) and acting belligerently. So, by the same token, shouldn’t believing in an all-loving God make them act all-lovingly?
Something doesn’t add up here.
* Incidentally, I’m using my post as an example, but it is by no means the only one I could offer. I’ve been witness to dozens of Arminian-Calvinist exchanges—enough to know that this groupie mentality is par for the course.