Re: [asa] (ancient theodicy, 'ancient theology') Deism, Apologetics, and Neglected Arguments

From: Merv Bitikofer <>
Date: Sat Aug 22 2009 - 12:23:39 EDT

I too, am fascinated by Jesus 'repent or perish' passage you quote
below. What comes through loud and clear to me is his message that "you
who survive now" are no better than those who suffer misfortune. But
beyond that, I'm not sure what we are supposed to make of the other
things in the passage. "Unless you repent, you too will perish"?! What
does that mean? Is Jesus switching the meaning of "perish" mid-lesson?
Obviously all his audience are dead and perished now ---we all succumb
to something, be it accident, disease, or time itself sooner or later.
So what can he possibly mean by seeming to hint that repentance could
save you in some physical sense? My guess is that this is a parable
about a real situation where "perish" has multiple meanings. That is the
only way I can make sense of it.

Regarding your comments below where you summarize the ancient approach
as "tragedy is due to sin" ( sure are good at spinning out these
one sentence summaries of entire epochs of culture, Bernie, and I seem
to be ever drawn to responding back to you with ...'yes, but what about...')

So continuing in that flavor of exchange, I would point out that the
ancients should at least be credited with having some nuance or further
depth to their observations in these regards. To be sure, a large swath
of passages from all over the O.T. do attribute calamity to sin, and
prosperity to righteousness. But don't let it be thought that this
sentiment remained always unchallenged even by their own ancient
observations. Try some of these passages --I'm sure there are more,
especially in the Psalms.

Job 21:7 "Why do the wicked live, Become old, yes, and grow mighty in

Psalm 10 (the entire chapter)

Or in Ecclesiastes, Solomon speaks of the race not being to the swift,
the battle not to the warriors, nor bread to the wise, or wealth to the
discerning, .... (dare we add 'blessing not always to the righteous?')
but that time and chance overtake them all. Some may right this off as
Solomon's existential musings of despair, but who will deny the wisdom
of observation in these words?

You may fairly say that the exception proves the rule, and also that
while these ancient authors agonized over these situations they still
often concluded that in the end, everybody will eventually get what they
deserve. They also perceived that in these situations there was a
"perversion" that they interpreted and agonized over as signaling God's
absence. I.e. not all is well in the world, and they pleaded for God to
attend to them again. So in these senses, I think you summary is a fair
one, Bernie. But even back then they wrestled over the same obvious
"exceptions" that we still struggle to come to terms with today. There
is nothing new under the sun in these questions of theodicy.


Dehler, Bernie wrote:
> If only Jesus would have taught how to deal with things like the
> tsunami or 911... Wait, I think He did!
> I think this passage is the same thing:
> *Luke 13*
> /Repent or Perish /
> 1Now there were some present at that time who told Jesus about the
> Galileans whose blood Pilate had mixed with their sacrifices. 2Jesus
> answered, "Do you think that these Galileans were worse sinners than
> all the other Galileans because they suffered this way? 3I tell you,
> no! But unless you repent, you too will all perish. 4Or those eighteen
> who died when the tower in Siloam fell on them—do you think they were
> more guilty than all the others living in Jerusalem? 5I tell you, no!
> But unless you repent, you too will all perish."
> 6Then he told this parable: "A man had a fig tree, planted in his
> vineyard, and he went to look for fruit on it, but did not find any.
> 7So he said to the man who took care of the vineyard, 'For three years
> now I've been coming to look for fruit on this fig tree and haven't
> found any. Cut it down! Why should it use up the soil?'
> 8" 'Sir,' the man replied, 'leave it alone for one more year, and I'll
> dig around it and fertilize it. 9If it bears fruit next year, fine! If
> not, then cut it down.' "
> People then knew about a terrible evil that Pilate had done. Jesus,
> how do you explain that? Or when the tower fell and killed so many
> innocents- everyone heard of it- how do you explain that?
> I think ‘ancient theology’ explains it this way: these tragedies are
> due to sin.
> Jesus modifies it with saying those people probably died because of
> their sin, but wait, you better take note and your use of a ‘second
> chance’ because you really aren’t much better. I think that is Jesus’
> answer to theodicy, but theologians don’t like it today.
> Yes- I’m aware of the other passage (John 9:2) when Jesus was asked
> who was responsible for the man’s blindness, the man or his parents,
> and Jesus said neither because it was a set-up for Him to do a miracle
> and prove His powers. I think that was a special case to the general
> theodicy (ancient theology) answer of sin being the reason behind
> sickness. I think Jesus’ disciples where asking Jesus if the ‘ancient
> theology’ on theodicy applied to this guy, verse 2 : “His disciples
> asked him, "Rabbi, who sinned, this man or his parents, that he was
> born blind?"”
> …Bernie
> _

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Received on Sat Aug 22 12:24:20 2009

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