Cameron responded on Facebook to Response to the Reformed 2 focusing on my discussion on merit, providing a counter-example.
Seems to me that the example is flawed. I believe a better one is: Person A works hard and earns $1000. He offers to gift it to person B. Person B has only just heard of this man, who comes from Niger, who tells him all he has to do is believe him to get this free money. However, if he accepts his free money, he is no longer allowed to accept … See Moreanyone else’s free money. Oh, and there may not actually be in free money if this person A is in fact not real. And the downside of choosing wrong is loss of limited time that you have on this earth / eternal torment if you chose the wrong one and one of the other “You can only accept my free money” people are right.
So, basically, you have something to lose if you take the “gift,” which says to me it’s a reward for risking/taking it, not just a free 1000 dollars that you only have to “accept”. – Cameron
This counter-example is based on two key assumptions: there is no rational basis to accept or reject the gift and making such an irrational choice can merit salvation.
The second premise seems to me to be the most poorly founded and essentially denies any reasonable understanding of unmerited gifts. the basic argument here seems to be that one does x and afterwards receives y, therefore y is merited. No real difference is admitted between a man who works hard all week for $1000 and a man who does nothing and is gifted $1000, because the second man “earns” the $1000 by receiving it. Even if we accept Cameron’s argument that in the case of the gospel faith is more of a gamble than a gift, the argument still implies that a man who wins $1,000,000 at a slot machine has earned that money just as a man who works hard for years can be said to have earned that money. Clearly, there is a different here which can not simply be ignored.
The first premise is central to Kierkegaard’s existential Christianity. Kierkegaard focused on the record of Abraham’s decision to sacrifice his son Isaac. He argued that there was no rational reason for Abraham to do what he did. Rather, Abraham was called to take an irrational leap of faith in God and so should we. However, this premise is false. Abraham had multiple dealings with God before this event. God had promised to take care of Abraham in a foreign land and provide a son to be his heir. God had kept both of those promises, providing a rational basis for trust in his relationship with Abraham. God had even specified that Isaac was that son of promise. Therefore, while Abraham did not know all of God’s plan, he had reason to trust.
The same is true of the gospel message and it’s offer of salvation through Jesus Christ. The offer is not posed in a void but within the context of much evidence I have discussed elsewhere on my blog. For example, the General Revelation of Creation, Conscience, and the Inner Light. and the historicity of the Bible, which I have discussed with particular emphasis on the historicity of the gospels. The Bible is not a book which asks for irrational trust and condemns those who ask for proof. Consider the story of Gideon:
Jdg 6:36-40 And Gideon said unto God, If thou wilt save Israel by mine hand, as thou hast said, Behold, I will put a fleece of wool in the floor; and if the dew be on the fleece only, and it be dry upon all the earth beside, then shall I know that thou wilt save Israel by mine hand, as thou hast said. And it was so: for he rose up early on the morrow, and thrust the fleece together, and wringed the dew out of the fleece, a bowl full of water. And Gideon said unto God, Let not thine anger be hot against me, and I will speak but this once: let me prove, I pray thee, but this once with the fleece; let it now be dry only upon the fleece, and upon all the ground let there be dew. And God did so that night: for it was dry upon the fleece only, and there was dew on all the ground.
when Gideon asked honestly for a sign, God did not condemn him to hell, but provided evidence. Similarly, the Bible challenges us to seek and to question, saying:
Isa 1:18 Come now, and let us reason together, saith the LORD: though your sins be as scarlet, they shall be as white as snow; though they be red like crimson, they shall be as wool.
Mat 7:7-11 Ask, and it shall be given you; seek, and ye shall find; knock, and it shall be opened unto you: For every one that asketh receiveth; and he that seeketh findeth; and to him that knocketh it shall be opened. Or what man is there of you, whom if his son ask bread, will he give him a stone? Or if he ask a fish, will he give him a serpent? If ye then, being evil, know how to give good gifts unto your children, how much more shall your Father which is in heaven give good things to them that ask him?
God does not ask for irrational choices. Rather, He challenges us to ask and seek answers.