Theologians Delight: the The Priestly and Prophetic Traditions
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The Theodicy that No One Takes Seriously Today: Is it Because it Works?

People run in herds and theologians are no different. New ideas replace old and these fellows jump ship en masse. New ideas come along and they abandon the old for the new. It is today almost taboo to mention what was once widely accepted. ‘Functional dualism,’ the notion that there is not just a good supernatural being (God), but also a bad supernatural being (Satan) to oppose him—it is as unpopular an idea as could be today. “Nobody takes this kind of thing very seriously anymore,” Hall says of it, even though he acknowledges that, as a theodicy, it makes sense. He does this after considering several theodicies in his preferred ‘ethical monotheism’ realm and finding fault with all of them. None of them work. The ‘functional dualism’ one that does work, theologians don’t like. Sometimes you suspect that is the reason they don’t like it—because it works. They don’t like the source of evil being outside their grasp. They want it strictly in the human realm where it can be fixed. Assign it to Satan, and human efforts to reform and remold are largely doomed.

Everything boils down to the universal question of, ‘Who will rule the earth—God or humans?’ The theologians of today want it to be humans, hopefully humans molded by the fine morals that religion may instill, but they want it to be humans. Hall speaks of the current trend in theology “that wants to put satanic powers, and anything that has to do with them, sort of in the attic of theological memories, to be forever forgotten and ignored because they're part of our theological childhood, or something of the sort.”

Theology is not a study of God, as the uninitiated may think. It is a study of humanity’s relationship with the concept of God. It is primarily a study of humanity, not of God. It makes no assumption as to even whether God exists or not. Following the herd of today, theologians may conclude that he doesn’t. They are not like me, trying to sway the new visitors to choose our congregation over others, telling them, ‘Frankly, in some of those congregations, I’m not even sure they believe in God.’ It is a joke. Everyone knows it is a joke.

But in the world of theologians, it is not. They may not believe in God at all, and if they don’t, this does nothing to downgrade their credentials as theologians. In the cases high-brow churches in which pastors hold degrees in theology, you can almost take it as a challenge to your faith, as though George Bush III landing on the aircraft carrier and saying of terrorists, ‘Bring them on!’ It is hard not to draw parallels with religious leaders of Jesus day, who elevated tradition over the ‘Word of God.’ It is even harder to not do it upon learning that they are embarrassed but the very expression ‘Word of God’ and strive to avoid it.

Mind you, the theodicy of ‘functional dualism’ that works, according to Hall, he does not flesh out—and without fleshing it out, it really doesn’t work. It just shows potential as a viable idea. Hall says nothing about how this ‘dualism’ came to be or why God puts up with both it and the mischief it causes. He leaves it untouched, it being “very unpopular,” a topic that “nobody takes . . . very seriously anymore,” a matter tucked away and “forever forgotten.” If I didn’t know better (and I don’t), I would call it an example of ‘the god of this system of things blinding the minds of the unbelievers,” just like Paul does at 2 Corinthians 4:4, as though making them blind to his very existence—all the better to flimflam the learned ones so they can flimflam everyone else.

Let us posit another reason that Hall and his cohorts flee from the Devil as a means of explaining anything. It is because the Devil to them (Hall states his upbringing as evangelical Lutheran) is the one who stokes the fires of hell! Hellfire—the teaching that Isaac Asimov called “the drooling dream of a sadist.” Even human justice knows that punishment ought be proportional to the crime. Even human justice knows that wanton cruelty ought be disallowed. The Devil and Eternal torment are bound together forever in Hall’s mind—he cannot separate them. To admit the one is to admit the other. If only he had been exposed to C. T. Russell, popularly known as the founder of what is today Jehovah’s Witnesses. The man was known within his lifetime as the one “who turned the hose on hell and put out the fire.”

******  The bookstore

Defending Jehovah’s Witnesses with style from attacks... in Russia, with the book ‘I Don’t Know Why We Persecute Jehovah’s Witnesses—Searching for the Why’ (free).... and in the West, with the book, 'In the Last of the Last Days: Faith in the Age of Dysfunction'

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