Friday, March 20, 2009

Children of God v. Children of the Devil Redux:

Former Washington Times columnist John Lofton responded to my thoughts at Positive Liberty on the issue of whether Christianity teaches all are children of God or only the regenerate are children of God, the others, children of the Devil. I feel I owe Mr. Lofton a response, given his amusing debate with music legend Frank Zappa.

Mr. Lofton originally asked me:

Cite for me, please, one Bible verse, one Scripture, that says, or indicates, that “EVERYONE” is a child of God. Thank you.

I replied:

I can’t. You have to take a more liberal interpretation of scripture to get the idea that we are all children of God.

To which he replied:

Thank you, Mr. Rowe for saying, truthfully, that you cannot not cite
one Bible verse, one Scripture, that says, or indicates, that “EVERYONE” is a child of God — that your view is based on “a more liberal interpretation of scripture to get the idea that we are all children of God.” So, what do you make of John 8:44ff? And how does your “more liberal interpretation of scripture” hermeneutic differ from, say just making stuff up about what God says because you want to believe what you want to believe? Thanks again.

First on what Scripture, properly understood, actually teaches, though I intensely study parts of the Bible that are relevant to my political-theological studies, I am not an expert in all biblical hermeneutic arguments. There are plenty of scriptures that on their surface seem contradictory, but good hermeneutics can "iron out." Just because I can't (yet) make the "sola-scriptura" case that all human beings are children of God doesn't mean that case can't be made. For instance, all five points of Calvinism are disputed on sola-scriptura grounds.

But more importantly, there is a rich history in Christendom of looking to more than just the Bible to discover God's will. The Roman Catholics, after Aquinas, who ultimately believed the Bible infallible, have their natural law tradition that supplements scripture. And there are also those Protestants like my friend Jim Babka who look to the natural law and findings of science while rejecting the Bible as infallible (but still believing most of it to be God's inspired Word). Now, they may be "believing what they want to believe." OR they may be discovering God's Will. Or maybe the atheists are right and you are all washed up.

I'm personally not much invested in a theology that says all humans are children of God. However, to the extent that there is an "America View" of political theology represented by the Declaration of Independence and the personal beliefs the most important Founding Fathers, such holds that all human beings are children of God.

It's precisely that view that makes human rights "unalienable" and consequently "universal." If the non-elect or non-regenerate are "children of the Devil," Mr. Lofton, I would ask, why should a "Christian" government treat them equally as the Declaration of Independence demands? There is plenty of textual authority in the Bible for UNEQUAL treatment of individuals and entire groups of people who were God's enemies, (children of the devil, as it were).

1 comment:

UUFreespirit said...

Jon, there are many Universalists who base their beliefs on scripture, and this would include the implication that all are children of (a loving) God. I believe Abraham Lincoln said that the Universalists have "scripture on their side." I don't currently have the litany of verses that support Universalism, but there are likely dozens of them. I don't personally depend upon the more scriptural versions of Universalism but know that there are those who is one, I think. If Mr. Lofton wants to debate Universalism then he'd be engaging in an inconclusive conversation that has been going on for centuries, even millenia.