Tuesday, 07 July 2009
Since I'd like to start a new precedent when questions of Bible translations come up, this will be my first translation/commentary survey of a particular verse in question. Basically it is a bit irritating when one Christian or another makes a contrary claim based on a translation. Two red flags go up. One, neither of us know Greek, probably, and things can get really stupid, really quick if either of us pretends to know what we are talking about if we have to duke it out on details. Two, often questions of translation are heavily debated in Christian circles much less with unbelievers and it makes little sense to concede a point if the next conservative Christian who walks through my blog door asserts the opposite with equal confidence. I want a universal argument and not one that just flip flops around. So, to avoid the trust your favorite scholar game and other similar follies, when possible I'd like to buzz through all the online resources I can find and see what everyone is saying.
Reprinted below are the brief volley of comments between myself and oeshpdog2, the translations I can find that support oeshpdog2's claim, all the online commentaries I can find, three that I scanned in from my own library, and then several online position papers. To make skimming easier, I highlighted what seem to be the most critical words of each section of quotes. I'll be using the A-F system I started laying out on my creation/evolution posts (link). Grade C will be a neutrality. B will be leaning for and D will be leaning against. A will be definitely for and F will be definitely against. Then we'll add them all up and give an overall grade. The question is whether God is just "hands off" with sinners who turn away from him or whether he actually does something deliberate to twist the knife so to speak and force upon them further confusion. The orientation will be A for God being a jerk, and F for God just living and let living. This method I think helps disown a bit of personal bias regardless of what you believe about the verse. It allows you to be more honest with what is the most plausible thing each author means and to help keep yourself from reading what you want into each section. Just call it like it is, and move on. Then add it up and see what happens.
For those of you who do not know, 2 Thessalonians 2:11 says, "For this reason God sends them a powerful delusion so that they will believe the lie." That seems pretty straight forward that God is doing something specific so that people will be misled somehow, but this clashes with typical Christian ideology that would like to think God isn't responsible for any lying. Sometimes, they are actually right, not just making up lame excuses, and some nuance gets smashed up in translation. I don't think that's the case here. But we'll see.
Thinking about this brings to mind the hardening of Pharaoh's heart (which is yet another silly debate that Christians will go back and forth on with each other just as much) and the God who overtly proclaims himself a Jealous God (link) who we can only imagine is most compatible with this kind of behavior. What do jealous gods do anyway? Not act jealous? This is just one verse of at least 6 others that indicates God really doesn't have a problem twisting the truth in people's minds for his own supposedly righteous ends. While I'm not too concerned with Bible contradictions or an argument from evil here (though I will touch on that just a little bit), the Skeptic's Annotated Bible (link) has some verses to add to the mix in regards to the back and forth on whether God lies (albeit by proxy). Those have been added to the argument map (see version 12) on whether Jesus might be righteously lying about eternal damnation (from which this conversation originated).
I understand this is rather long and mainly for my own purposes. I have no idea who out there is actually crazy enough to follow along. I did try to make it pretty easy to breeze through if you have any idea where I'm coming from with this and I added some lolcat pics that I think might help get through it. Though I'm not sure what the appeal might be to an average reader (assuming I have average readers), I would be delighted to find in the comment section any links to important position pieces from Christian apologetics that somehow managed to not get represented here. I will add them. The Online Parallel Bible (link) has been very helpful, though I've found other online commentaries (link). If anyone else knows of any other online resources that would make future projects like this more efficient, I would be very grateful to know about them.
Please note at the bottom of each section in italics are my grades and brief commentary where applicable.
The Contention Over 2 Thessalonians 2:11
oeshpdog2 responded (link):I wanted to go back an address rebuttal number 2 about the "strong delusion" being equated to a lie. You have to go back and read 2 Thess. 2 in context to see that it is addressing the hardened sinner who rejects God and the truth and turns to follow "the lawless one." It says "God will send them a strong delusion that they would believe a lie." The lie in that passage is in reference to the lies the "lawless one" will perpetrate which are not lies coming from God. The "send a strong delusion" is translated from "kai dia touto pempei autoiv o teov" which means "giving the wicked over to the evil they have chosen" which is adapted from Robertson's Word Studies of New Testament Greek. The passage explains where the lie comes from and it is not from God.
F, since that's obviously what oeshpdog2 intends.
I responded (link):@oeshpdog2 - Hey thanks! That does sound plausible given the context of the chapter. Not sure why God would have to give it an extra punch to send them on their way if it's just the way the sinners would want to go anyway. But that is what it seems to say in just about every translation I'm looking at on BibleGateway. Nineteen out of twenty have no indication of the translation you suggest. Only the Worldwide English version (link) says anything like it. I don't know Greek so I'm going to have to read around on different perspectives to see if I should concede that point. It seems that there are some pretty firm Christian vs Christian perspectives on that. If you have any suggested web articles either way, I'd appreciate the heads up.
B, since I allow for the possibility of being mistaken. :D
(1 of 20 on BibleGateway) Worldwide English (link) "That is why God lets them be fooled so that they will believe what is not true."
(1 of 15 on Online Parallel Bible) Bible in Basic English (link) "And for this cause, God will give them up to the power of deceit and they will put their faith in what is false:"
B, since the overwhelming trend is to translate it in a positive sense that puts God in a place of responsibility. There are two small exceptions (quoted above), so other ideas are at least possible.
Robertson's (link)And for this reason God sendeth them (kai dia touto pempei autoiß o qeoß). Futuristic (prophetic) present of the time when the lawless one is revealed. Here is the definite judicial act of God (Milligan) who gives the wicked over to the evil which they have deliberately chosen (Romans 1:24,26,28). A working of error (energeian planhß). Terrible result of willful rejection of the truth of God. That they should believe a lie (eiß to pisteusai autouß twi pseudei). Note eiß to again and twi pseudei (the lie, the falsehood already described), a contemplated result. Note Romans 1:25 "who changed the truth of God into the lie."
D, for the phrase "deliberately chosen" though we'll pull the F because it uses the phrase "definite judicial act." I was under the impression that oeshpdog2 was giving me a direct translation of the Greek, but here it appears to only be an interpretation based off of Romans.
Darby's (link)Now the apostle (chap. 2: 3, 4) presents the complete picture of man's iniquity, developed when apostacy from the grace of the gospel had taken place (he exalts himself even to the making himself God), without touching the Jewish side or the manifested power of Satan. These verses shew us the man of sin is the result of the apostacy which will break out in the midst of Christendom. Verse 9 begins to teach us in addition, that the coming of this wicked one is also in immediate connection with a mighty display of the energy of Satan, who deceives by means of marvelous works and a strong delusion to which God gives men up, and of which we have spoken in the text.
D, since Satan is being blamed, but we might still read something into God giving men up.
Geneva (link)2:11 And for this cause God shall send them n strong delusion, that they should believe a lie:
(n) A most mighty working to deceive them.B, since it doesn't bother trying to justify God in any way and actually seems to intensify the point. However, this is partly an argument from silence, so we'll pull the A.
Gills' (link)Or "efficacy of error", which God may be said to send; and the Alexandrian copy reads, "does send"; because it is not a bare permission but a voluntary one; or it is his will that error should be that truth may be tried, and be illustrated by its contrary, and shine the more through the force of opposition to it; and that those which are on the side of it might be made manifest, as well as that the rejecters of the Gospel might be punished; for the efficacy of error is not to be considered as a sin, of which God cannot be the author, but as a punishment for sin, and to which men are given up, and fall under the power of, because they receive not the love of the truth, which is the reason here given: and this comes to pass partly through God's denying his grace, or withholding that light and knowledge, by which error may be discovered and detected; and by taking from men the knowledge and conscience of things they had, see (Romans 1:28) . So that they call evil good, and good evil, and do not appear to have the common sense and reason of mankind, at least do not act according to it; and by giving them up to judicial blindness and hardness of heart, and to the god of this world, to blind their minds; and without this it is not to be accounted for, that the followers of antichrist should give into such senseless notions as those of transubstantiation, works of supererogation…
F, since it goes out of its way to acquit God and uses negative language instead of positive.
Jamieson, Fausset, Brown (link)11. for this cause--because "they received not the love of the truth." The best safeguard against error is "the love of the truth."
shall send--Greek, "sends," or "is sending"; the "delusion" is already beginning. God judicially sends hardness of heart on those who have rejected the truth, and gives them up in righteous judgment to Satan's delusions (Isaiah 6:9,10'Romans 1:24-26,28'). They first cast off the love of the truth, then God gives them up to Satan's delusions, then they settle down into "believing the lie": an awful climax (1 Kings 22:22,23, Ezekiel 14:9, Job 12:16, Matthew 24:5,11, 1 Timothy 4:1).
strong delusion--Greek, "the powerful working of error," answering to the energizing "working of Satan" (2 Thessalonians 2:9); the same expression as is applied to the Holy Ghost's operation in believers: "powerful" or "effectual (energizing) working" (Ephesians 1:19).
believe a lie--rather, "the lie" which Antichrist tells them, appealing to his miracles as proofs of it . . . (2 Thessalonians 2:9).
D, since it puts the deluding in Satan's corner, but God still seems to be up to something.
Matthew Henry (link)God shall send them strong delusions, to believe a lie. Thus he will punish men for their unbelief, and for their dislike of the truth and love to sin and wickedness; not that God is the author of sin, but in righteousness he sometimes withdraws his grace from such sinners as are here mentioned; he gives them over to Satan, or leaves them to be deluded by his instruments; he gives them up to their own hearts’ lusts, and leaves them to themselves, and then sin will follow of course, yea, the worst of wickedness, that shall end at last in eternal damnation. God is just when he inflicts spiritual judgments here, and eternal punishments hereafter, upon those who have no love to the truths of the gospel, who will not believe them, nor live suitably to them, but indulge false doctrines in their minds, and wicked practices in their lives and conversations.
F, since it leaves no room for doubt that Satan is doing the deed and God is not in any way responsible.
Peoples (link)11, 12. For this cause God shall send them strong delusion. Because they do not receive the truth. He who refuses to receive the truth will at last believe lies. It is the law of human nature. God sends the delusion by natural laws.
D, since I'm assuming "by natural laws" means that he allows people to reap what they sow.
Wesley's (link)Therefore God shall send them - That is, judicially permit to come upon them, strong delusion.
D, since it says "permit"
Some Offline Commentaries
Henry Morris (link)2:11 believe a lie. There is a definite article here-the lie. Those who have refused the truth will be given a strong delusion by God Himself when the man of sin is revealed. They will believe his lie, receive him as the god of this age, then perish with him.
B, since it says "by God Himself", but there is another agent in the equation.
NIV study bible (link)2:11 For this reason. Because of their deliberate rejection of the truth (v. 10). God sends them a powerful delusion. God uses sin to punish the sinful (cf. Ro 1:24-28). the lie. Not just any lie, but the great lie that the man of lawlessness is God (v. 4).
B, since there isn't any softening of the rhetoric, but there is a reference to another agent who would do the lying.
Orthodox NT (link)2:11. Saint Kyril of Jerusalem: "In his tune there shall be the evil inducement both of fear and of deceit, so that if it be possible the very elect shall be deceived. Let it never enter into the heart of any then alive to ask, 'What more did Christ? For by what power does this man work these things? Were it not God's will, He would not have allowed them.' The apostle warns thee, and says beforehand, 'And on this account God shall send (that is, shall allow to happen) to them an influence (a mode or impulse to action) of error for them to believe the lie' (KQI 8ict TOUTO Tteiiyei cnrcolq 6 0e6i; £vep7ei.av nkav^c, eii; TO Ttiateijoai ccuto'ui; -coi \|/eiJ8ei), not that they might make excuse, but that 'they all might be judged [2 Thess. 2:12].' Wherefore? 'They/ he says, 'who believe not the truth,' that is, the true Christ, 'but had pleasure in the unrighteousness,' that is, in Antichrist." [CatecheticalLectures, Lecture XV(17), in Nicene, 2nd Ser., VII: 109.] Cf. Rom. 1:25, "the lie."
D, since it says "allow" but we pull the F since it abruptly changes tone with the parenthetical insertion.
Some Online Christian Articles
First Word (link) (giving another Christian's view)According to one Protestant teacher God does, in fact, lie. “Someone says, ‘God lies.’ Yes, he does.”
This is a hard saying, especially in light of the Apostle’s teaching that God cannot lie. But before we denounce this as impious heresy, let us consider the argument that is offered and see whether there is anything to commend it. The teacher, Steve Schlissel, reasons as follows:
“God freely chose to lie to Ahab [in 1 Kings 22] by an appointed surrogate. He did not wince, did not squeal, did not seek to shift responsibility. In fact, he boasted about it to Ahab and Ahab’s colleagues . . .
“Consider the facts. God solicited the plan [to deceive Ahab], God had his choice of plans, God approved this specific plan, and authorized it, and commissioned the lying spirit. According to the Word of God, presiding judges are responsible for their decisions and commanding generals are directly responsible for the instructions.”
A, wow that's even a better argument than I was making.
Trinity Foundation (link) (directly against the above position)Not only does Schlissel directly contradict the explicit statements of Scripture when he says that God lies (see Titus 1:2: "God...cannot lie"; Hebrews 6:18: "impossible for God to lie"; 1 John 2:21: "no lie is of the truth"; Number 23:19: "God is not a man that he should lie"), Schlissel also regards God as a man and thus compares him to a presiding judge or a commanding general. Schlissel has no grasp of the distinction between the Creator and the creature, and he makes God subject to the same rules that apply to mere men, who are held accountable by God.God is not responsible to anyone, especially not to Steve Schlissel. The concept of responsibility, as Dr. Gordon Clark pointed out 70 years ago to those who have ears to hear, implies that one is legitimately required to give a response, to give an account, to a superior. God has no superior, especially not Steve Schlissel. No one can require God to give an account of his actions. God, therefore is not responsible to anyone for anything. When Schlissel says that God lies, Schlissel lies. When Schlissel says that God is responsible for his lies, Schlissel lies.Furthermore, Schlissel says that some lies are good. He seems to have learned this lie from the Reconstructionists (or perhaps it was the situation ethicist Joseph Fletcher), who have taught the virtue of lying for decades. So when God lies, he is doing good. And presumably Schlissel thinks that when he lies, he is also doing good. He is deceived and a deceiver.
B, since they inadvertently conceded that God can get away with literally anything just because of the impracticality of being unable to summon him to a court. Wow. I'd give them an A if they weren't clearly trying pathetically to get an F.
Looking Unto Jesus (link)Let us begin with the last of the verses listed, 2 Thessalonians 2:11. We read, "...God will send them strong delusion, that they shold believe the lie..." In verses 9-10, we find that "lying wonders, with all unrighteous deception" are attributed to the lawless one, who works according to Satan. It is not God who has told the lie, but Satan. However, those who have accepted the lie, and "...did not receive the love of the truth..." and "...did not believe the truth...", God permits to believe the lie, perish and be condemned.
When one believes error, the Lord will allow it to be so. His truth is always available, but if one has not the love of the truth, he will believe the lie. In each case listed, the Lord permitted folks to believe the lie, and in some cases used it as a means of judgment, but He did not lie. There is no contradiction.
F, since it goes out of its way to acquit God and blame Satan.
Dan of Israel (link)God does not lie. He is not the author of sin. Nevertheless, all beings, good and evil, are under His control-- whether they like it or not. This applies to the lying spirits, which are demons.
God, in His great mercy, does not allow many bad things to happen to us. Yet, when His anger is kindled, He withholds, or takes away, His restraining grace. In the case of the prophets in the above verses, He could be said to “put” the lying spirits in mouths, when technically He only “allowed” it to happen.
“Deceive” does not necessarily mean a “lie”. It also denotes “to trick”. The latter definition is what is most accurate in the verses. It is okay for God to trick His Creation. He does not always have to reveal His mind to His people, especially when He is angry with them.
Basically, when a person or group of people harden their hearts for a great length of time, God will withdraw Himself from them in stages. Tricking them is one way in which God shows His displeasure with such a people or person. However, for Him to do this, the provocation must be very grievous.
B, inadvertently since tricking and lie/misleading are pretty much the same thing. No A, since he's trying to get an F.
Eric Vestrup (link)
The alleged problem: If God finds lying to be horrible, why does he put lying spirits into the mouths of prophets and delude people?Where is the contradiction here? It appears that this objection is asserting that the fact that God does not like lying necessarily implies that He could not use this evil for His own ends as a judgment. This is hardly a valid syllogism. One's feelings toward something don't have any connection with whether it is possible to use that something towards one's own ends.
A, since the "lie by proxy" is validated.
Glenn Miller (link) (on 2 Thessalonians 2:11)
- This has to do with the End-times and the Anti-Christ, who appears with 'all kinds' of epistemologically-powerful evidences. All sorts of 'extraordinary evidence' will accompany this evil one. (v.9)
- This power also shows up in every 'sort of evil' that deceives those who are perishing. Notice that this 'deceives' applies to people who are ALREADY perishing somehow. They have ALREADY been confronted with truth and rejected it apparently. Now this 'new' deception comes ON TOP OF that previous rejection (sorta like the OT rulers, eh?). (v.10)
- The reason for their perishing is NOT said to be 'God' but 'because they refused to love the truth'. This fits PERFECTLY with the OT rulers--who 'loved deceit'! It was rejection of truth that caused 'perishing'. (v.10)
- IF they had loved the truth, then they would have 'been saved'--and these verses would not have applied to them, and the powerful epistemic forces of Satan (although VERY convincing) would NOT have 'convinced them' (see Jesus' prophecy about this aspect--Mt 24:24: "For false Christs and false prophets will appear and perform great signs and miracles to deceive even the elect -- if that were possible. 25 See, I have told you ahead of time.")
- "For this reason" applies backward to the rejection of truth; the "so that" applies forward to the condemnation. What this basically does is tie the 'delusion' CAUSALLY to the 'refusal to love the truth' (like in the OT--"we love deceit") and tie it JUDICIALLY to the 'judgment/condemnation' (like in the OT--"confusion")
- However, we should note that the delusion itself is VERY SPECIFIC in this case--it is "The Lie"--NOT just general falsehood (which we will see in the next verse).
- In verse 12 we see again that the condemnation/delusion is for those who have ALREADY NOT believed the truth. This is simply not your basic 'open-minded seekers' but rather those who have rejected both TRUTH AND "love for truth". It is not just people who are mistaken (no-truth), but people who are HAPPILY MISTAKEN(!)--the "no truth for me, buddy" crowd.
B, since the "lie by proxy" is validated, but Glenn is trying to pull the punch in albeit a meaningless way. I'd give a B+ or an A- if I wanted things to be more complicated. I don't.
John Piper (link)And at the end of this age, God will ordain a “strong delusion” as part of the punishment for those who “refused to love the truth.” “The coming of the lawless one is by the activity of Satan with all power and false signs and wonders, and with all wicked deception for those who are perishing, because they refused to love the truth and so be saved. Therefore God sends them a strong delusion, so that they may believe what is false, in order that all may be condemned who did not believe the truth but had pleasure in unrighteousness"
B, since "ordain" is used in a positive sense, but Satan is still blamed.
Wow, a tie! haha, that's so funny. I understand this is in no way definitive and I'm sure Christians will argue with my evaluations. But at the very least, it's a decent survey of Christian thought and defense of the topic.
Some General Christian SentimentsFirst Word (link) (method)
There are two ways to refute this argument. The direct way is to simply amass verses that state without qualification that God does not and cannot lie, recommend the hermeneutical principle of the analogy of faith, and conclude that an interpretation of 2 Kings 22, or any other passage of Scripture, that implies that God lies is faulty. This approach takes the clear teaching of Scripture on a topic and utilizes it as a guide to understanding more difficult portions of Scripture in order to safeguard against the exotic and the unorthodox. Since there are numerous texts that teach God cannot lie, one single passage that possibly implies that God lies given its isolated context, should be interpreted in such a way the brings it into line with other clear teachings from Scripture. As John Murray says, “We would need the most explicit evidence to warrant such deviation and it is the evidence that is wanting.”
The second way is to deal with specific text itself and bracket off the portions of Scripture that teach God does not lie. In other words, given its context, does 1 Kings teach that God lies? Before addressing the argument itself, two preliminary observations are in order.
First, the text does tell us that God sends forth a lying spirit, but it does not say that God lies. This is an inference that Schlissel draws from the text. It may be that he has a good argument for this inference, but it is an inference nonetheless.
Second, evangelical commentators are careful to guard against interpretations of 1 Kings 22 which God is seen as lying. Calvin and Matthew Henry, for example, understand the lying spirit to be Satan and is his (Satan’s) lie and not God’s. C. F. Keil and E. J. Young believe the spirit of prophesy is being referred to. Keil goes on to argue that it is the spirit of prophesy under the influence of Satan. But whether the spirit of prophesy is under such influence or not, both commentators maintain that it is not God’s lie.
This is incredibly question begging methodology that apparently pervades most of the commentaries and lay Christian responses. Ideology says God doesn't walk. Text says God does walk. Apologists say the earth moves under God's feet as they kick, but no walking occurs. As you may have noticed, when we get to the position papers, things get a little different since they can't just give the party line. They actually have to *explain* what they mean and thus fall into the obvious confines of the opposing argument's claims.
Glenn Miller (link) (in general)
Let's try to summarize the various threads so far.
- If you reject truth and don't even really want the truth, then you will get (i.e. God will give you) EXACTLY what you want! (The old "be careful what you wish for, you just might get it")
- Some confusion (not all, by any means!) may be a judgment from God, in keeping with #1 above--cf. Rom 1.25 ("They exchanged the truth of God for a lie") and 1.28 ("Furthermore, since they did not think it worthwhile to retain the knowledge of God, he gave them over to a depraved mind"). But it is ALWAYS in line with what we WANT.
- God uses a 'permission' ethic to achieve this. In some cases He allowed false messages and false messengers to have access to the 'hearer' (e.g. Ahab, Jeremiah's audience); in some cases He will allow strong epistemic evidences to accompany said messages (2 Thess 2). He permits deceptive influences into someone's life because (1) they ASK for them; AND often (2) as judgment for prior rejection of truth and honesty-values.
Note: When the demons in Matt 8.30 asked for permission to enter the animals, Jesus simply said 'Go' (.31). This does NOT make Him the active sponsor of evil. When he told Judas to do his betrayal "quickly," this did not implicate Him in His own betrayal. God allows us to chose ignorance. He seems to stall it off for a while, but if we become increasingly dishonest in how we deal with information about Him and other truth, eventually He will ethically be driven to 'punish us'--to allow our character to BECOME like the character of our most recent choices (e.g. to reject obvious truth).
- BUT--by the goodness of God somehow--in each of the cases we have seen, God has along with the deceptive forces, provided INFORMATION about those forces. He has provided truth even about the 'confusion' SO THAT WE might accept truth and change the path of our character. In this act of providing insight and explanation as to the nature and aberrant truth-status of the deceptive messages, God seems to attempt to thwart His judicial actions Himself! He really does want us to know Him.
A. God is clearly being implicated to a degree and so he isn't completely against deception in practice. B. The owner of those pigs would rightly think otherwise. C. Obviously there wouldn't even be an issue unless the Bible was actually revealing both sides of the deception. We can't be sure about the times God didn't bother doing this. Is everyone that is judged in this way get a window into heaven? I think not.
Ray Stedman (link)
I had the privilege of leading a group of pilgrims to the Holy Land. We were innocents abroad. Most of us had never been there before, and we did not know what we would run into. But we had been given assurance, by means of a letter from a person in New York, that someone would meet us at every place we landed and would help us to get through all the intricacies of entering a foreign land. On the strength of that letter, some twenty-five of us committed ourselves to the tender mercies of a stranger and discovered that it all proved true. The word of that letter proved true, and on the basis of it, we committed ourselves to a considerably risky venture. Is not God more dependable than people? If you will take the word of a stranger and act on it, can you not believe the Word of God, especially when He has caused the testimony to be written down by the eyewitnesses of these events?
I think this illustrates the natural root insecurity Christians are ideologically up against. They want to trust God, but such comparisons ignore plainly what they believe about God. God is unaccountable to them in any way, shape, or form. Why should you trust God more than people when God allows all sorts of natural disasters to befall humanity on a regular basis? If he owns our bodies, he owns our minds and our beliefs about reality as well. If he can kill you on a whim, he can lie to you on a whim. Maybe it is incoherent to blame God in the sense of thinking you can take him to a non-existent court, but that's not really what anyone gives a crap about in principle.
My argument (link) is that Christians don't have the right even in terms of their own worldview to claim that God necessarily told them what was the case about a number of basically meaningless issues. God is completely free to have historically misled the vast majority of believers for what he would consider righteous spiritual ends and many moderate to liberal Christians have basically already gone down a similar path. The only difference here is that my argument recognizes what God's most likely intentionality would have to be rather than trying to wiggle out of it in intellectually dubious ways. God might actually expect people to believe fundamentalist doctrines even if they aren't actually true even if Christianity at its spiritual core is actually true. The verse in 2 Thessalonians 2:11 is not terribly unique in the Bible and has a decent tradition behind it, and plugs right into lots of other Biblical concepts and themes. It was a supporting verse for my argument, given I focused most of my efforts on God's lie to Abraham that he wanted him to physically murder Isaac (but really didn't mean it). Naturally I understand most Christians will reject this just as much as they would reject any non-Christian conclusion, but that doesn't mean they are correct even on their own footing. It mostly just seems to mean they don't want to deal with such a high level of uncertainty. But welcome to the real world.
Just recently SirNickDon pleasantly concluded (link), "And if I were to argue with atheists here on xanga, I would summarize not by asking them to give up their atheism (though by all means they should feel free), but by asking for a bit of epistemological humility." Are Christians really willing to be this humble with their own Biblical epistemology? I'm sure some of them are. I'd like to run this by James McGrath (link) to see what he thinks. Are you supposed to have a rigorous Christian worldview or are you just supposed to be saved by Jesus from your sins and let God take care of all the rest? Food for thought, if nothing else.
- This has to do with the End-times and the Anti-Christ, who appears with 'all kinds' of epistemologically-powerful evidences. All sorts of 'extraordinary evidence' will accompany this evil one. (v.9)