This is Byron Smith's Typepad Profile.
Join Typepad and start following Byron Smith's activity
Join Now!
Already a member? Sign In
Byron Smith
Quantum Discordia
Software Developer, part-time amateur atheist, armchair philospher hack living in the basement
Interests: Software Developer, Microsoft, Linux, *BSD, Sci-Fi/Fantasy, Gaming, RPG, Strategy, Action FPS
Recent Activity
Mary, for the record, I am no longer able to believe any of the fundamental tenets of Christianity or God (at least in any Christian sense). So essentially my "unbelief" goes much deeper than differences over soteriology, though those are also primary to many Christians. I would still be a five-point Calvinist, if I could become a Christian. I was as genuine as I could be for 25 years, mentally assenting to the essential doctrines of the faith (and many non-essentials, especially in the periphera of Calvinism). I am sorry, Mary. I used to think I knew it all, and now I realize I did not: not as a Christian, and certainly not now. I do not know as much about the religion I used to believe as is possible. But of course, this assertion excludes the possibility of Christianity actually being true and actual conversion and spiritual faith abiding in souls which exist as real entities. There are three components to Christian faith, as I see it from a secular standpoint: cognitive understanding, mental assent, and social framework. Of course, Christians would add a fourth which is primary: the spiritual realm, under the authority of God and subject to His decrees, and interpreted to humans by the Holy Spirit through the inerrant Word of God, which bears witness to Christ and His work of divine redemption. To call James White a lunatic is to claim his irrationality, and I do not think that can be sustained. His beliefs have definitely been polarizing, especially in the area of soteriology, however. From what I can see, the debate centers upon different interpretations and harmonization of key scripture passages. I no longer believe in the Bible either, so I no longer feel the need to defend or oppose any particular interpretation with any passion. That can simply give way to curiosity on my part.
1 reply
Les, I mean you no personal offense, but I disagree with the sentiment that I will never get it, and never be able to spiritually discern things. Those are your beliefs, not mine, based on your view of the operation of the Holy Spirit on people's souls. To me, no offense, but it might as well be magic in my view. I used to believe this same way, too, as a Calvinist, until one day it finally dawned on me that "lost" people COULD and DID understand the Bible, at times better than I did. All I wanted was your personal theological view for curiosity's sake. I understand you take your religion seriously, and I respect that. But are you afraid that you cannot just answer my question directly for some spiritual reason? Anyways, take care, and have an excellent day.
1 reply
Peter: In fact, it was James Whites' mention that piqued my interest and pointed me in this direction. Les: I'm curious. As you might remember from my comments (as Byroniac), I was a five-point Calvinist, then became an Agnostic. I saw nothing externally that I could use to justify my salvation. So I turned inward, and found nothing really solid there, either. I reasoned (then, as a Christian) that without the genuine conversion from the Holy Spirit, a false convert might have everything else one could wish to show externally, good works showing strong faith and reasonable hope of salvation. But I could not rid myself of the nagging thought: what if I am not actually elect? I have no way to determine my own genuine conversion, and given the Parable of the Sower, the seed is good but the end result might be ruin, and that is not always known immediately. I want to ask the question, not as an atheist (what I am currently), but as-if from a Christian viewpoint, how does a Calvinist justify his/her salvation? Anything you point to, good works, strong faith, whatever, can all disappear and fall by the way side (I speak from personal experience, there).
1 reply
Peter, though I'm an apostate atheist (or perhaps agnostic), and no longer Calvinist (or Christian), I find myself still drawn to to the Calvinist side of Christianity, as opposed to the non-Calvinist side. But I feel conflicted when I ponder which theology I would choose if I still believed. On the one hand, I find myself agreeing with the horror expressed at predestination and especially that of reprobation. I can step back and examine my apostasy from the standpoint of Calvinism, which, if true, presents a truly horrible finality and sternness in the justice of Almighty God. In this view I am simply a vessel fitted for destruction. Predestination is just the means to accomplish God's desired end: my condemnation and eternal punishment, for His Glory. But, on the other hand, and in my opinion as a non-believer, I think the very key idea here is one of divine authority. I find it also very difficult to deny the right of a Sovereign, Omnipotent, Omniscient Creator to do with His creation as He pleases. I am not trying to insinuate that you or others attempt to do this at all, or even would. But I wonder if the Calvinistic side of the equation, that I held to, stresses righteous authority to such an extent that even morality cannot (and need not) be fully qualified or understood in the context of the divine. Authority itself, without explanation of morality, is sufficient. Whereas in non-Calvinism, perhaps authority and the need for explanatory morality are balanced equally? These are just my thoughts. I am just curious, so I am asking this because I still occasionally enjoy thinking about these concepts.
1 reply
Byron Smith is now following The Typepad Team
Oct 20, 2010