Re: Response to Howard on Tillich & Bultmann

From: bivalve (
Date: Thu May 22 2003 - 15:48:42 EDT

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    Concluding that all of God's activity is natural because all that I have observed of it is natural seems analogous to my concluding that Howard never talks because all the interaction that I have had with him is via email or books. However, the definition of natural limits the merit of this criticism.

    The expanded definition of natural seems to potentially rule out coercion by definition. I am reminded of the explanation of Aslan's resurrection in The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe as being in accord with a more fundamental set of laws than the ordinary course of events. Likewise, Jesus' conviction that the Scriptures must be fulfilled reflects a constraint to act within a certain set of rules. Thus, we could postulate that it is the "natural" course of events for Jesus to rise from the dead, as this is how things were designed to happen. I think there is much merit in emphasizing the lack of difference between God's working in "miracles" and "non-miracles." However, I would describe this as reflecting God's necessary self-consistency and the limits imposed by His own choices.

    Likewise, Griffin's view that love must be non-coercive strongly suggests that he has limited experience in dealing with children. Loving parents frequently need to coerce children towards what is best for them. This may reflect a problem with the distinction between persuasion and coersion. If a child won't eat his vegetables, is it persuasion or coersion to forbid dessert? If "coersion" is restricted to approaches such as tying him down and feeding the vegetables intravenously, then persuasion describes just about any realistic approach. A similar issue is currently debated in Iraq-is it persuasion or torture to make prisoners listen to the Barney theme for hours?

    Thus, it seems as though the categories of natural or non-coercive can be expanded to the point of including just about anything. Do they continue to serve a useful purpose in this case?

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